Applebee's, the world's largest casual dining restaurant chain, is looking to expand its presence extensively in the Middle East over the next three years. Currently, Applebee’s has 34 outlets across Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan and UAE. As part of the expansion strategy, the restaurant chain plans to open an average of seven new outlets every year till 2017 and creating over 600 job opportunities.
Gary Moore, Regional Vice President & General Manager, Middle East and North Africa said: “With the increasing appetite for out-of-home dining and growing discretionary wealth in the Middle East, there is plenty of room for restaurant brands to expand their business. Dining out is becoming a favourite activity for many Kuwaiti residents, who spend an average of 55 Kuwaiti Dinar on restaurant meals per month. UAE has the highest average spend in the Middle East market, at AED 841. Consumers in Qatar are the second-biggest diners, spending about 768 Qatari Rial, and Lebanese spend on average 158,429 Lebanese Pounds”.
Applebee’s has experienced a 10% growth over the last three years on the back of rising momentum in the region. The stabilising economic scenario has proved to be profitable for the Food & Beverage industry as well as aided in creating more job opportunities. Additionally, the boom in the real estate sector has encouraged expansion with construction plans for more malls have been announced.
He continued, “The region is still behind whenever you compare it to a market like the United States, which is close to saturation point. In the US, approximately 50 cents of every dollar spent on food is spent in a restaurant. I don’t believe we are at that level yet. As the restaurant business continues to boom in the region, Applebee’s sees more opportunities and growth here. We place a great amount of emphasis on the associations we develop in neighbourhoods. With that in mind, we plan to establish a strong presence within communities with the new openings, while our outlets in the malls will continue to showcase what our brand can do.”
In addition to the expansion, Applebee’s recently embarked on a re-branding exercise across all outlets in the region. Imbibing the local flavour, Applebee's interiors now represent a culturally rich canvas with the amalgamation of Middle East and American icons.
Applebee’s considers itself a part of the community and the growing popularity of the neighbourhood brand has played a crucial role in the expansion. Globally, Applebee’s is considered a place where people can go to relax, grab a meal and come back to. The neighbourhood restaurant is most famous for its Mushroom Steak Skillet, Appetizer Sampler and Three Cheese Chicken Penne Pasta amongst other favourites.