Flavoured with passion, crafted with the right business intent

September 22, 2023 | By Rupkatha B

George Kunnappally, Managing Director, Nando’s UAE

George Kunnappally, Managing Director of Nando’s UAE, is a seasoned hospitality industry professional, who has been into F&B franchise operations, management and brand development for 25 years. He has launched and/or grown brands such as Subway, Charley’s Philly Steaks, Whittard of Chelsea, Bateaux Dubai, Second Cup Coffee, Johnny Rockets and a host of UAE bred concepts in the Middle East, Africa and CIS regions. 

Starting his career with the Taj Hotels in India, Kunnappally has worked at the senior management level with large conglomerates headquartered in Dubai with a MENA footprint. He is on the advisory board of the UAE Superbrands Council, UAE Restaurants Group (under the aegis of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry), Middle East Food Forum and Fast Food & Cafe Convention. 

Nando’s is a people first business, and any digital or technological investments are purely driven by consumer need or to improve the customer experience. The brand has implemented Pay at the Table solution, waiter paging system for outdoor tables, inventory management system for better utilisation of stocks and food prep forecasting for speed of service.

Inspired by the PERi-PERi flavour, from day one, Fernando Duarte and Robbie Brozin had great ambitions to build a business around it. In South Africa at first, but it wasn’t long before the brand moved abroad – now present on five continents, across 19 countries and with over 1,200 restaurants, more affectionately known as “Casas” – the Portuguese word for “home”. 

The Nando’s flame first ignited in the UAE in 2002, when franchisee Suhail Gidwani, Chairman & CEO of Nando’s UAE LLC, opened the first Casa on Sheikh Zayed Road. Nando’s currently employs people from 20 different nationalities across the 20 restaurants and 1 dark kitchen, Central Support (head office) and call centre in the UAE. Despite incurring heavy losses in FY2020 owning to the detrimental effects of the pandemic, Nando’s UAE broke even in FY2021 and recorded its best year since launching the business 20 years ago in FY2022.

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