UAE-based conglomerate RُELAM Investment has acquired the exclusive rights to the brand of Casual Dining Group, the owner of Las Iguanas, Bella Italia, and Oriel Grande Brasserie in the UAE. Signing the franchise deal was officially announced during a launch event attended by both parties at Las Iguanas, Royal Festival Hall, paving the way for RELAM Investment to open 11 restaurants in the UAE over the next four years.
Casual Dining Group (CDG), the operator of nearly 300 mid-market restaurant brands including Café Rouge, Bella Italia and Las Iguanas, has agreed a new franchising deal for its Las Iguanas, Bella Italia and Oriel Grande Brasserie brands in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where the partners are currently looking at several high-profile locations in Dubai for the debut site, and are also keen to explore opportunities in Abu Dhabi for further openings.
The agreement represents a partnership between RELAM Investment and CDG, who will become its primary food and beverage partner in the region. RELAM Investment is a well-respected global investment company based in Dubai, specialising in a range of investments, including real-estate and technology. After recently committing to invest £300m into technology and real estate in India, this will be the company’s first food and drink investment.
The deal sees the first ever franchise for Oriel Grande Brasserie, CDG’s premium all-day restaurant concept, that currently operates three sites. All of these are at airports, meaning travellers can indulge in luxurious and timeless French inspired dishes crafted by chefs in an open kitchen. While the food across all of the brands will be reflective of their UK counterparts, all of the sites will be ‘dry’, but will serve a range of specially created mocktails which were showcased on the launch night.
Mr. Sultan Ali Rashed Lootah, Chairman & Managing Director of RELAM Investment, added: “When we look for partners, we don’t just want well-known brands, we want operational experts who are the best in class and reflect our company values. CDG specialises in creating unique and memorable customer experiences and we are confident there is significant demand for its brands across the UAE, as the taste for European cuisine rises. The food scene across the UAE, particularly in Dubai, is vibrant and exciting at this moment in time and we are very much looking forward to working together on this new partnership.”
Steve Richards, CEO, Casual Dining Group, said: “This latest agreement clearly demonstrates, once more, our ambition to gain a foothold in foreign markets, taking key learnings from the UK and applying them in other countries. We’re much more than just high street operators and our businesses is diversifying as we seek new ways to utilise the expertise across our business.
“Finding the right franchise partner is crucial to ensuring our brand standards are met overseas. Naturally we are delighted to work with RELAM Investment, who know how to run exceptional venues, and understand our business.
He added: “We look forward to working closely together over the next four years to grow their estate and will take momentum from this deal as we seek out new opportunities for our brands across the globe.”
The move adds further momentum to CDG’s growing overseas franchise portfolio, which already boasts agreements in Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Ireland; to name a few. The group is exploring further franchising opportunities in Asia, Europe and North Africa.