Having identified home delivery as a major growth opportunity, Jumeirah Restaurant Group rolled out its first delivery hub for The Noodle House brand, expanding its reach to 17 new locations and achieving record-breaking revenue. Crystal Chesters speaks to JRG general manager Emma Banks to find out more.
When Jumeirah Restaurant Group (JRG) carried out a feasibility studied two years ago, it identified major growth opportunities in the home delivery space, with a need to increase the speed and reach of deliveries in order to maximise revenues.
The first thing the group did was transition from cars to ergonomically designed bikes to allow drivers to cut through congestion. Secondly, it launched a dedicated delivery hub and industrial kitchen in Dubailand to supplement and expand The Noodle House’s in-restaurant dining business, which currently comprises six Dubai outlets, three of which deliver. The delivery hub has increased the pan-Asian brand’s geographical reach to 17 new locations in the UAE and has improved efficiency and speed of delivery in 10 already-serviced areas.
Speaking to Catering News at the new delivery hub, Jumeirah Restaurant Group general manager, Emma Banks, said: “We wanted to meet growing demand from our customers, deliver consistency and quality and stick to 45 minutes or below delivery time to expand our market share. By opening this hub, we can deliver to 17 new areas and take some of the pressure off existing units so they can deliver faster to their customers and do more turnover in their areas.”
“By opening this hub, we can deliver to 17 new areas and take some of the pressure off existing units so they can deliver faster to their customers and do more turnover in their areas”
The 80m2 facility taps into lucrative new markets, covering Arabian Ranches, Dubailand, IMPZ, Jumeirah Village Circle, Motor City and Barsha 1,2 and 3. Banks reveals that since opening, the hub has generated the highest average cheque out of all of the delivery outlets for Noodle House. “These were areas we couldn’t get to fast enough before – huge and lucrative markets we weren’t tapping into,” she explains.
With 24 bikes on the road and the new delivery hub launched, The Noodle House’s direct delivery proposition is strong, however Banks admits that working with third parties is an important part of the strategy, with Deliveroo, Food on Click and Talabat some of the partners on board. “Third-party business is growing rapidly, but we keep our own drivers very busy. We’ve expanded our home delivery business by 25 – 30% because our own fleet is working in conjunction with third parties. At the end of the day, it allows us to deliver more and faster, because the consumer is looking at half-an-hour to 45 minutes’ delivery time. Nobody will wait more than an hour now. If we didn’t work with the third parties, we’d be cutting off our nose to spite our face.”
Jumeirah Restaurant Group still promotes its 800-NOODLE call centre number, which is integrated with the delivery-enabled outlets. While it was once part of the plan to develop an app for Noodle House, this has been put on hold given the shift in the landscape – Banks admits it’s difficult to compete with third-party players such as Deliveroo and UberEats. “If you have a one-brand app, how will it compete with apps that have 40 or 50 restaurants featured?” she comments. Instead, JRG is focused on upgrading its website this summer and is introducing a payment gateway to make ordering directly more convenient.
While Noodle House, Jumeirah Restaurant Group’s flagship brand was the obvious choice for the first delivery hub given the success of its delivery business in the emirate already, Banks is clear that the Dubailand venue hub is a “pilot” and there could be space for other brands being represented. “We thought about doing hubs with other brands but I think we’ll evaluate this as Deliveroo has changed that whole space and some brands can be just as easily facilitated through that. We could consider doing multiple brands in these hubs because we can design the kitchens with different brand set-ups. I do think there’s potential for other brands – the delivery market in Dubai is growing fast and there’s no sign of it stopping.”
“Third-party business is growing rapidly, but we keep our own drivers very busy. We’ve expanded our home delivery business by 25 – 30% because our own fleet is working in conjunction with third parties”
Since the interview took place, Perry & Blackwelder’s delivery menu has been made available at the Dubailand delivery hub, and JRG has partnered with Deliveroo to offer this service. In a statement, JRG said: “The reaction so far has been fantastic, JRG is attributing this to a previous gap in the market as the traditional smokehouse segment is not well represented in the home delivery market. Sales are growing week on week for Perry & Blackwelder’s as awareness grows.
The Dubailand delivery hub is the first of three to be rolled out, and without being able to reveal the exact locations of the other two, Banks hints that these will service untapped markets on the outskirts of Dubai.
In addition to improving its delivery capacity for The Noodle House brand, the group is focused on rolling out its new design concept at the Madinat Jumeirah venue, and the Burjuman restaurant, which will be closed and re-opened in a new building. Making the kitchens more efficient is another objective, and the Dubailand delivery hub has acted as a testing ground for space-saving, multi-tasking equipment.
“It used to be you’d have one piece of equipment for one task,” says Banks. “Nowadays, with rents in premium locations high, you don’t want to pay for space that’s not being used. We’re looking to reduce the footprint of our equipment and make sure it’s designed to be user-friendly, intuitive and hygienic. Equipment is expensive so we want it to be functional and do more than one task. We’re hoping future Noodle House kitchens will be value-engineered and more efficient.”