- McDonald's Middle East and Africa Managing Director Yousif Abdulghani shares insights on the future of the franchise business model at the International Franchise Forum -
Dubai, UAE; April 24, 2013: Yousif Abdulghani, Managing Director of McDonald's Middle East and Africa, said that creating jobs and driving nationalisation programmes across the Middle East region, while being a main challenge, will also be the game-changer that drives successful franchising in the Middle East and Africa region. He was addressing delegates at the International Franchise Forum in Dubai yesterday.
While rising unemployment is a key concern in the region, the fast-growing quick service restaurant sector offers a strong job platform that supports localization initiatives. “A great example is Saudi Arabia, where we have over 1,000 Saudi nationals employed by McDonald's,” said Mr. Abdulghani. “We have always been a strong believer in nurturing local talent. We believe it is critical that we create not just jobs, but careers; employment that fosters economic growth, builds industry skills and creates real opportunities at every level. Each market is actively involved in their local community with a great focus on nationalization.”
With the Informal Eat Out (IEO) and Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) segments in the Middle East valued at an estimated $45bn and $22bn respectively, franchising presents strong growth opportunity, said Mr. Abdulghani. “The cost of real estate and location of restaurants are critical factors in the success of the business. While the proliferation of shopping malls has played an instrumental role in the growth of quick service restaurants in the region, it is important to have a balance between standalone restaurants and outlets within mall food courts to take the brand experience to a wider cross-section of customers. You cannot build the brand equity of a restaurant just by being in the food court. Standalone restaurants will continue to offer exciting opportunities for franchisors.”
He said that a third factor critical to the industry is creating and maintaining a robust supply chain. “It is important to secure the best products at the best prices. This can be one of the biggest challenges for a franchisor. To facilitate this process, McDonald's leverages its global network and purchasing power to ensure we deliver the best quality at the best price to our customers. Ongoing changes in food safety regulations and distribution present additional challenges in this part of the world, which is where contingency planning is vital,” explained Mr. Abdulghani.
A keynote speaker at the Forum, Abdulghani discussed the various benefits and key challenges affecting Middle East franchisees with an audience of the region's industry and trade professionals. “The maturity, expansion and development of the franchise sector over the past 20 years have been remarkable, and we are delighted to have played a key role in this.”
Accordingly to Abdulghani, the QSR industry across the Middle East has a bright future. He said: “The success of the industry is ultimately the success of McDonald's. We are honoured to have played such a vital role in creating business success, furthering economic growth and development; and creating employment opportunities in one of the most exciting and innovative industry models in one of the most interesting and dynamic regions of the world.”
McDonald's operates in more than 360 restaurants in the GCC, all of which are locally owned and operated by entrepreneurs. McDonald's is the world's leading food service organisation serving 69 million people each day at more than 34,000 restaurants in 119 countries. For more information on McDonald's in the Middle East, visit mcdonaldsarabia.com