Ian West, group general manager of 4-Front unveils ambitious growth plans for the group behind The Scene by Simon Rimmer.
You recently joined 4-Front as group GM – what’s your previous experience?
I began my career in the UK working as on-trade category manager and business development manager for AB Inbev, the parent group for several beverage brands. Eager to pursue the international beverage sector further, I moved to the Middle East with Heineken (Sirocco) in 2005 and successfully developed the brand’s presence in the region by managing both the Heineken brand and later the Dubai on-trade sales team. I successfully implemented the commercial and channel strategy of the sales team before moving to 4-Front as group general manager in January 2016. I now oversee all aspects of the multi-unit F&B organisation.
What attracted you to the role?
With a wide range of international involvement across sales, trade marketing and brand management, I was eager to channel my decade of knowledge and experience across the Middle East into a hospitality management company. I was instantly drawn to the 4-front vision to create outlets that target the expat community on a worldwide scale with diverse and unique mid-scale, casual concepts. I was particularly excited about the company’s ambitious growth plans and eager to bring my own skill-set to continue to create a company that people not only admired, but wanted to be a part of.
Please offer an overview of 4-Front’s concepts?
The company’s first venture, The Scene by Simon Rimmer, became an instant hit when it opened in 2014. The Scene, situated against the picturesque Dubai Marina backdrop, is an award-winning British restaurant serving pub classics and comfort food with a retro twist. After the huge success of its first outlet, 4-front went on to open La Cala, a Balearic beach bar located 20 minutes outside of Dubai in Ghantoot Marina, which has grown to be a consumer favourite for its Balearic Brunch and after-hour’s events. Then we introduced Jekyll & Hyde to DIFC, which has had a fantastic response and has already developed a loyal following for its hearty pub grub, great beverage offerings and heavy focus on sports.
What is the latest concept to launch from 4-Front?
Mr Miyagi’s Asian street food restaurant and bar on Level nine of Media One Hotel in Media City is opening this summer. It’s probably our most creative and flamboyant project yet and there’s definitely nothing like it in Dubai. We’ve been very determined to ensure we deliver authentic Asian street food, funky drinks, kitsch décor and a guaranteed good time. Hailing from the streets of Asia, fictional sensei, Mr Miyagi, heads up an outlet like no other, bringing recipes, trinkets and entertainment from his travels across Japan, China, Thailand and Vietnam. There will be a unique concept party brunch, larger than life entertainment on a bi-weekly basis and a great value business lunch menu.
What makes 4-Front stand out from its competitors?
What differentiates us from our competitors are two key elements; authenticity and people. No matter what the concept, we firmly believe that creating an experience that allows consumers to connect to the concept origin is paramount for success. Whether that is Kho San Road or Abbey Road, we want guests to really feel as though they’ve left Dubai, through our décor, branding and food and beverage. Secondly, people are the foundation of our business, be it our clients, staff or the customers we serve in our outlets. We recognise that we need to have the best staff in place to achieve our mission and we are passionate about nurturing our employees to facilitate their growth and development in a proactive environment. We also know that treating every customer like they matter and gaining their loyalty is the backbone of our business.
What are the plans for the company over the next 12 months?
The company has an ambitious growth plan, with a mission to launch 100 new outlets across four continents in the next decade. Later this year we plan to add three exciting new concepts to the portfolio, so stay tuned for more on those!