Armed with impressive credentials and F&B retail service experience spanning the Middle East and North Africa, Christian Salloum pursued a dream he had been nurturing since the age of 17, launching his own restaurant and catering consultancy. BrandPortunity, like the name suggests, is a mixture between “brand” and “opportunity.” The company is a testament to Salloum’s creativity, success and positivity, mirroring the opportunities and solutions that he has shaped over the years and the brands that he has strengthened with his knowledge and determination. HN sat with the foodpreneur to learn more about BrandPortunity.
1. BrandPortunity is an innovative and intelligent restaurant and catering consultancy with a solution-driven mindset. What sets it apart?
BrandPortunity takes food and beverage brands to the next level by assisting them in creating opportunities, developing concepts, and launching innovative initiatives that are ahead of the curve. This impacts positively the top and bottom lines, improve brand equity and resale values. In brief, thanks to its solid expertise and unrivalled know-how BrandPortunity helps clients exceed market demands and improve their offerings by being on trend.
2. You have been a driving force behind successful casual dining concepts, retail bakeries, quick-service restaurants, and boutique enterprises, what does your professional experience bring to the table?
I’ve been instrumental in ensuring the success of many restaurants and businesses across the Middle East.
I played a pivitol role in ensuring the success of renowned French gastro-restaurants, La Croisette and Au Premier , at IHG group. When I joined Azadea Group, first in Kuwait then in the UAE, I played a critical role in expanding PAUL Bakeries across nine countries in the MENAT region and scaling the brand over 70 bakery-restaurants and successfully establishing its catering division.
My extensive expertise and International trainings allowed me to strategically establish the food and beverage divisions for a boutique enterprise in the UAE, managing to grow its portfolio to three successful brands: JJ Chicken and two casual dining concepts including the high-end French patisserie and restaurant inspired by chocolate, Un Dimanche A Paris.
So in conclusion, I have a deep-rooted understanding of the entire industry; I am result oriented and always strive for growth as well as expansion.
3. What are your plans for the future?
The post-pandemic landscape is full of opportunities within the region, and as BrandPortunity’s business portfolio grows, the industry will witness a surge in investors and entrepreneurs eager to diversify their investments. The future landscape might currently be unknown, but with industry insights, knowledge and communication, BrandPortunity will guide businesses through these difficult times. This will lead to the dramatic growth of the entire food industry. The food and beverage industry is resilient and forever evolving and adapting. My team and I are set to launch various exciting new concepts throughout 2021.
4. What does it take to be a “foodpreneur,” especially during challenging times?
A foodpreneur is simultaneously a passionate food lover and entrepreneur; one who has a complex and creative imagination and business acumen. As with anything, as long as the heart and soul are invested, challenges can and will be overcomed.
A foodpreneur needs to be passionate, develop a smart business plan, and analyze numbers. In brief he needs to know his competition and find a unique recipe or formula with a visible USP (unique selling proposition) that gives him an advantage.
Seeking the right investors who share the same passion for food and the same beliefs in great ideas is also critical.
5.What single piece of advice would you give a restaurant or catering facility to survive COVID-19?
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic will reshape the entire food industry. It’s a resilient and entertaining sector, and it is an integral part of our lifestyle. BrandPortunity has a “FOOD” strategy that guides its clients through four essential phases:
- Fleeting: Accept and absorb the pandemic and start to plan for the future.
- Observe: It is imperative to find answers to the what, how, why and who questions. Managing cash flow is a crucial component to survive the pandemic.
- Operate: When business returns, adaptation is required so that companies can find their ‘new’ normal and develop guidelines for cashless payments, digital or sanitary menus and QR codes thus creating trust with customers by offering a safe environment.
- Develop: Businesses will need to continue to develop and evolve and offer thoughtful designs that empathetically reflect the changes that COVID-19 has dictated
All in all, there is a genuine fear of the unknown. The food industry is flexible and resilient, it can quickly overcome hardship by listening to its customers’ needs, seeking consultancy, and being forward-thinking. By remaining positive and creative, we find a positive new future.