Abu Dhabi’s leading investment firm Gulf Capital has acquired Chef Middle East, an importer and distributor of specialty and fine food products.
‘Chef’ was established in 1995 in Dubai as a regional supplier of the finest quality foods to the hotel, food services, casual dining and airline industries.
The company represents some of the best high-end global brands and world-class customers from around the region. It boasts first-class operations and facilities, servicing more than 1,000 customers in the UAE, Qatar and Oman.
Dr Karim El Solh, Chief Executive Officer of Gulf Capital, said: “The strong underlying growth of the sector is driven by positive market fundamentals that continue to fuel the upward trend in the economy.”
The Food and Beverage market is estimated at over Dh6 billion ($1.65 billion) in the UAE at the moment, and forecasted to grow organically by 7-10 per cent per annum, while it is estimated to be an Dh1.8 billion ($0.5 billion) industry in Qatar and is forecasted to grow by 8-10 per cent per annum.
Tourist expenditure in the UAE is forecasted to grow at 11 per cent per annum in the same period while total tourist numbers are expected to grow at eight per cent per annum. Private consumption is also high and is expected to grow by 13.6 per cent, 13 per cent, and 8.1 per cent in the UAE, Qatar and Oman respectively.
Richard Dallas, Managing Director of Private Equity at Gulf Capital, termed the deal as ideal due to the defensive nature of the food services sector, which has historically been resilient to recessions, and the leadership position of ‘Chef’ within this high-growth, demographically-driven niche subsector.
Chef supplies some of the world’s leading food products from many European countries as well as Australia and Japan in the dry, chilled and frozen categories including cheese, chocolate, poultry, egg products, oils, vinegars, spices, pickles and condiments.
The firm boasts 2,000 products and has a comprehensive temperature-controlled supply chain operation. Through a leverage buy-out structure funded by a combination of equity and debt from Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB), Gulf Capital has acquired the shares and assets of ‘Chef’.
On handing over his business, Suresh Rajagopalan, Managing Director of Vintage Holdings said, Chef has a “strong leadership position in its sector based on its outstanding service reputation, with excellent brands and a loyal and motivated team.”
Gulf Capital’s diversified alternative investment portfolio in the region, spans Private Equity, Credit and Mezzanine and Real Estate.
The firm is currently investing its $533 million GC Equity Fund II, raised from regional and global investors.