Imad Khairallah, CEO of Kitchen Confidential, has traveled the world donning several hats, from manager to consultant. However, Beirut has always been his base. Here, he explains how he managed to expand to UAE despite COVID-19.
Can you tell us more about your new opening?
We decided to split the business into two divisions: the large-scale manufacturing and distribution business, and the restaurant business. With regards to our large-scale manufacturing operations, we have set up a factory in joint venture with a large Dubai-based group, where we have started distributing to the GCC market under the brand name Recipe number 7. As for the restaurant business, under the Kitchen Confidential name, we are starting with cloud kitchens for online delivery before moving at a later stage to brick-and-mortar restaurants either directly or through franchisees.
Why did you decide to open in UAE?
The UAE, Dubai in particular, is a hub for the Middle East and has important global-brand equity, making it easier to do business. Our partners are well established in Dubai, so it was a natural choice for us.
What challenges you are facing?
Like most businesses, COVID-19 delayed our plans by at least six months. The fact that airports were closed for a period of time and the travel complications slowed down the transfer of knowledge between our R&D center in Beirut and our new headquarters in Dubai.
Do you have any future expansion plans?
We have many expansion plans, at all levels: a new product launch, new sub-concepts as well as geographical expansion into a European city, which you will hear about once the pandemic ends.