M.H. Alshaya Co. has this week entered into an exclusive licensing agreement with leading US restaurant brand, The Cheesecake Factory, to build and operate The Cheesecake Factory restaurants in the Middle East. The first two restaurants are scheduled to open in Dubai and Kuwait in 2012.
The partnership announcement, which represents the first international expansion for The Cheesecake Factory, was finalised at a signing ceremony on 24th January in Los Angeles by David Overton, Chairman and CEO of The Cheesecake Factory Incorporated, and Mohammed Alshaya, Executive Chairman of M. H. Alshaya Co.
Founded in 1978, The Cheesecake Factory is a highly successful upscale casual dining concept in America, with over 160 restaurants serving a full menu range, including its famous cheesecakes such as Godiva® Chocolate Cheesecake, White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle®, and Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake. The brand already has a strong reputation in the Middle East and Alshaya expects to develop a portfolio of restaurants over the next five years across the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The franchise agreement also gives Alshaya the opportunity to expand into other markets, including the rest of the Middle East, North Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, Russia and Turkey.
The new partnership further develops Alshaya’s Food Service offer, which has expanded greatly in recent years to reflect the market potential in the region and the strong consumer demand for international brands. Alshaya already partners with a number of leading Food Service brands including Starbucks, Dean & Deluca, PF Chang’s, Pinkberry, Le Pain Quotidien, Asha’s and Pizza Express. In 2010 it signed agreements with three further US-based food concepts: Shake Shack, Potbelly and Texas Roadhouse, all of which are expected to open their first outlets in 2011.
Commenting on the new partnership David Overton, Chairman and CEO of The Cheesecake Factory Incorporated said: “We are excited to announce a significant step forward in the implementation of our global growth strategy through the development of The Cheesecake Factory brand restaurants in international markets, beginning with the Middle East. The Cheesecake Factory is an iconic brand and a consumer favorite, not only in the United States, but by reputation across the globe. Our agreement with Alshaya provides us with another avenue for growth and will enhance our ability to continue delivering shareholder value.
“With our menu featuring over 200 items that are prepared fresh daily in our restaurants and our focus on quality and hospitality, our restaurants are extremely complex to operate, and we set the bar very high in terms of our standards. We found the premier partner in Alshaya to operate and execute The Cheesecake Factory restaurants in a manner that is consistent with our existing domestic operations. The portfolio of restaurant and retail brands that Alshaya operates is impressive and speaks to its capabilities in successfully bringing leading brands to the Middle East, a highly desirable and growing market for American brands.”
Mohammed Alshaya, Executive Chairman of M.H. Alshaya Co. added: “We are delighted to be the company’s initial licensee to develop and operate this outstanding restaurant concept internationally. The quality and popularity of The Cheesecake Factory brand, coupled with our local market expertise, as well as our track record of launching and operating high-profile American brands in the Middle East, produces a winning combination. We continuously ask consumers in the Middle East to tell us which U.S.-based casual dining restaurants they want most in their local markets. The Cheesecake Factory is always at the top of the list.”