Ant Ventures’ ambitious expansion

Ant Ventures’ ambitious expansion

Roy Maroun, COO of Ant Ventures Worldwide, a hospitality group famous for Casper & Gambini’s, as well as Bab Idris, Tarator and Caspresso Café, talks about expansion, success and why adaptability is essential to the sustainability of any business.

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.

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About author

Rita Ghantous

Rita Ghantous is a hospitality aficionado and a passionate writer with over 9 years’ experience in journalism and 5 years experience in the hospitality sector. Her passion for the performance arts and writing, started early. At 10 years old she was praised for her solo performance of the Beatles song “All My Love” accompanied by a guitarist, and was approached by a French talent scout during her school play. However, her love for writing was stronger. Fresh out of school, she became a freelance journalist for Noun Magazine and was awarded the Silver Award Cup for Outstanding Poetry, by The International Library of Poetry (Washington DC). She studied Business Management and earned a Masters degree from Saint Joseph University (USJ), her thesis was published in the Proche-Orient, Études en Management book. She then pursued a career in the hospitality industry but didn’t give up writing, that is why she launched the Four Points by Sheraton Le Verdun Newsletter. Her love for the industry and journalism led her to Hospitality Services - the organizers of the HORECA trade show in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan, as well as Salon Du Chocolat, Beirut Cooking Festival, Whisky Live and other regional shows. She is currently the Publications Executive of Hospitality News Middle East, Taste & Flavors and Lebanon Traveler. It is with ultimate devotion for her magazines that she demonstrates her hospitality savoir-faire.

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