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Jamaica Blue aims to grow UAE footprint

Plans up to 75 stores in the next three years

Gulf News

Dubai: Dubai-based Capital Group plans to open up to 75 Jamaica Blue cafés in the UAE over the next three years to take advantage of the growing demand for the morning cup of joe.

Capital Group is a media communication company, which has a retail division — Capital Retail and Hospitality — that operates the Jamaica Blue cafés in the UAE.

After taking over operations of the company here in 2014, the group has doubled the number of stores to 14. Now it plans to open between 50 and 75 additional outlets, mainly in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, said Umang Suri, its chief executive, in an interview.

The new stores and kiosks are expected to open in hotels, commercial towers and community malls, he said, adding that the total investment for the expansion stands at $35 million.

“People are coffee drinkers here. The presence of so many brands here shows that there is a demand,” he said.

The coffee retail market in the UAE is expected to be valued at Dh486.8 million this year and reach Dh817.3 million by 2020, according to consultancy Euromonitor International.

It is dominated by Starbucks, which has a 24 per cent share, followed by Costa Coffee and Caribou Coffee, said James George, research analyst at the consultancy.

“The coffee market is growing. It is not saturated — there is room to grow. In recent times, there has been an interest in terms of bringing new brands,” he said, adding that the growth is driven by an increasing population, more tourists and new retail developments.

A number of new coffee stores have opened in the UAE this year, such as Australia’s The Coffee Club in Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah’s Ratios Coffee.

To stand out in the UAE’s competitive coffee market, companies need to sell a variety of products that meet customers’ wants and needs, Suri said.

Asked how Jamaica Blue is different from the likes of Starbucks and Costa Coffee, he said it offers “freshly made” products.

Jamaica Blue’s coffee beans are imported from Jamaica, he said.

Capital Group is also looking to diversify its retail portfolio by adding lifestyle and fashion brands. It is in talks to bring in 8-10 of such brands to the UAE from Brazil, Spain, the UK and US, he said.

Additionally, it is interested in launching its own retail brand in the future.

Jamaica Blue, which is owned by Australia-based Foodco, has 134 stores globally.

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