What can you tell us about your expansion plans?
Ant Ventures Worldwide is a rapidly expanding group that develops, supports and franchises food and beverage brands across the world. The group’s success stems from its commitment to the highest standards of quality, which is achieved through a dedicated and disciplined approach to teamwork, operational efficiency and stakeholder satisfaction. The group’s vision is to serve consumers across the world.
Despite the difficult circumstances post-Covid-19 in Lebanon and throughout the MENA region, we’ve managed to overcome the challenges. Being an established brand, with 25 years of experience in successful concept growth, we support 40 operations regionally and count on our strong brand image, as well as the engagement of our loyal customers.
In which countries are you already established?
Our brands are up and running in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, KSA, the UAE, Nigeria and Syria. We have further outlets under development in several of the aforementioned places. We have also received a significant amount of interest from other countries. However, we have given careful thought to ensure we choose the right franchisee. It is also worth noting that Ant Ventures has always taken a cautious approach to learn as it grows rather than simply selling franchises. Having built the infrastructure and required resources, we have now been witnessing and supporting increased growth that will place the brands in a new league in terms of exposure within the next five years. Furthermore, we are preparing to expand in Europe, and we are in negotiations with a client in Texas, U.S.
What are the biggest challenges that the company faces?
Integration is challenging; the research and development should be well maintained and thus conducting a full feasibility study is a crucial factor.
How would you evaluate 2021 for Ant Ventures?
Well, we managed to sign several new countries — Baghdad, Libya and Côte d’Ivoire — which we will be able to serve in 2022.
What systems have you established for a smooth franchisor/franchisee relationship?
As a franchisor, we have a system and a dedicated team that follows up with the franchised stores. We are flexible and believe that each market has its own taste. Therefore, we adapt to the different needs of each country in order to sustain our business. With regard to products, we try to be trendsetters via our R&D team and have hired culinary consultants. We have 18 consultants to implement processes and procedures to create a successful brand. We never compromise on quality. New ideas and development are our main objectives. Simply put, we believe in innovation.
To what do you attribute your success?
We are focused on developing innovative and efficient solutions to streamline our day-to-day operations. By focusing on specifics within each local market throughout the Middle East and Africa, we are able to deliver a superior guest experience. It’s important to us that our brands don’t just feel like Lebanese concepts being generically plugged into a number of different cities.
We aim to continually evolve and improve our offering – food, service, facilities and standards. Our menus are reviewed twice a year; our seasonal special offerings change monthly, and we pay close attention to the nutritional content of dishes to ensure that we have something to match all of our customers’ requirements.
Another important factor is menu consistency. Somewhere between 70 and 80 percent of the menu is standardized, and 20 to 30 percent is customized for each market. This allows us to maintain the creativity level with the chef and integrate the culinary experience with elements of the local area.
Our new interior design will be fully implemented in 2022 in most of the countries, along with a full rebranding to our corporate identity, website, packaging material and menu.