Opinion: Scaling up for Expo 2020

Posted under F&B, Interviews & Features.
by Crystal Chesters | Published 3 years ago

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Love Mansukhani, founder and managing director of Ribbon Consulting believes that scalability and adaptability are vital to every F&B concept as we approach Dubai Expo 2020.

Love Mansukhani, founder and managing director of Ribbon Consulting

As Dubai and the UAE prepare for Expo 2020, all hands are on-deck. Moving and shaking is going on all around us and the whole city is slowly starting to hum in excitement as we approach one of the largest Expos the world has ever seen. So, what does this mean for the hospitality sector in the UAE, particularly with regards to food and beverage?

With the dawn of a new era of cuisines spreading across the world, there is less and less room for error. The hospitality industry is expanding globally and we are now catering for guests who are well-informed, conscious about what they eat, up-to-date with market trends and who understand the difference between good service and great service. This forces restaurants to adapt and improve in line with the expectations of their knowledgeable clientele.

With well over 9,000 restaurants in Dubai catering for 2.8 million people, the competition is exceedingly tough. Around every corner lies a string of restaurants and fast food outlets, not forgetting the abundance of hotels with their own ensemble of F&B. Despite how crowded the market is, I believe there are still some underserved segments– particularly for fast-casual venues serving affordable, yet high quality food in comfortable, quick-service settings.

Given Dubai and the UAE’s multicultural and multifaceted nature, it has become more and more challenging for single-unit restaurants to reach out to every type of clientele. Furthermore, Dubai’s rising property rental rates have made it harder for single, large-sized units to remain sustainable in the long-term, especially during economic downturns.

The way forward, in my opinion, is for investors to build concepts that do not require much space, and which are more scalable, with smaller units over a larger geographical area. Recent years have seen several brands being built around this business model and successfully so, regardless of the cuisine.

More and more brands are focusing on becoming specialised concepts with smaller, adaptable menus and convenient packaging. Health-focused, and other lifestyle choices, are key values restaurant are trying to embed within their offerings, so that customers can eat there multiple times a week. Higher volumes versus higher margins is their value proposition.

Since Expo 2020 is nearly on our doorstep, investors should look to develop scalable, specialised concepts and grow them gradually over the next few years. With Dubai as the launch platform, brands that set up a strong infrastructure, focus on making operations efficient, build brand awareness and execute a strong marketing strategy by the time Expo 2020 rolls around, will best be able to position themselves for franchising and global expansion.


Love Mansukhani is the founder and managing director of Ribbon Consulting, which was set up in 2012. An accomplished restaurant developer, operator, and business manager with over 15 years of hospitality experience, Love’s diverse network of industry contacts and investors across the UAE has helped drive Ribbon Consulting to become the successful hospitality firm it is today.

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