F&B is a tough market

Rupkatha Bhowmick

Celebrity chef and restauranteur, Jamie Oliver recently announced the collapse of his restaurant business in the UK. The restaurants include Jamie’s Italian chain, Jamie Oliver’s Diner at Gatwick Airport, Barbecoa steakhouse and Fifteen London.

Oliver’s international restaurants – including Jamie’s Italian, Jamie’s Pizzeria and Jamie’s Deli – however, will reportedly continue operating. Closer home, Jamie’s Pizzeria was launched in the UAE last year by retail conglomerate, Apparel Group. The restaurant, located at Cluster R in Jumeirah Lakes Towers, continues to operate normally.

The F&B market, globally, is becoming tougher owing to several reasons such as oversupply in certain market, high rents and increasing cost of operations. In this context, during an exclusive interview with RetailME, British Michelin-star chef Tom Aikens, said, “The general climate, world-over, for F&B is tough. In such times, we have to concentrate on doing things prudently and for the right reasons. A few things will always be crucial – consistently offering high-quality food and great customer service. Customers, especially repeat guests, should always feel valued for them to build loyalty in a world where there is ample choice,” he concludes.

Commenting on the F&B landscape in the Middle East, he added, “It is a unique, diverse and interesting market. One of the big reasons why the UAE – Dubai specifically – is able to attract global talents such as chefs Massimo Bottura and Thomas Keller, to name a few. Of course, they have to be careful about their offering, especially since these are fine-dining concepts. While the names of these chefs could be enough to bring in the crowds, sometimes it may not work. After all, there is only a handful of people who will pay a few thousands of dirhams on a dining experience. Moreover, these experiences are usually reserved for special occasions and not regular outings.”

Aikens runs his restaurant Pots, Pans and Boards on Jumeirah Beach Residence in Dubai that has been operational since the past four years. A casual dining restaurant, it has been doing brisk business.

However, one of his concepts Tom’s Kitchen Deli at Riverland Dubai in Dubai Parks and Resorts (DPR) that opened towards the end of 2016 had to shut down. But, on the bright side, Aikens joined hands with luxury hotel group, The Abu Dhabi Edition to curate the menus for three signature restaurants – all-day dining health-focused Market at Edition; the Oak Room steakhouse; and the Mediterranean-inspired Alba Terrace.