Kuwait’s Americana Group will set up at least 60 restaurants run by the US-based Darden Restaurants over five years. The new deal represents Darden’s first venture into the Middle Eastern market.
Per the agreement, Americana Group will establish and operate regional Darden's Red Lobster, Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse brands.
The Kuwaiti company will at first open 60 restaurants or more over the next five years in Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), reports Arabian Business.
"We've been exploring international expansion for some time now as part of our ongoing focus on additional growth opportunities,” said Clarence Otis, Chairman and CEO of Darden. “The Middle East is an attractive, growing market that has shown a strong affinity for American brands, especially American dining brands.”
"Darden remains committed to owning and operating its restaurants domestically. However we believe the best way for us to expand the reach of our portfolio internationally is by selecting the right partners, like Americana, with outstanding operations experience, local market knowledge, and the commitment to delivering our brands' experience with excellence," he added.
Chairman of Americana Group Marzouk Al Kharafi said the deal came in response to growing interest and demand for casual dining brands within the Middle East.
"Consumer demand for casual dining brands in the Middle East market has grown over the past decade, and we expect that growth to continue in the future. The addition of these three highly regarded brands to our portfolio enables Americana to build on its long legacy as the leading restaurant operator in the region," he elaborated, The Associated Press reports.
Publicly traded firm and Middle Eastern food service franchise operator Americana already operates franchises of fast food brands such as Pizza Hut, Krispy Kreme and Hardee’s, currently operating more than 1,200 restaurants across 14 countries between the Atlantic Ocean and Caspian Sea.
Based out of Orlando, Darden, the world's largest full-service restaurant company, runs 1,800 restaurants across the US and Canada and generates over USD 7 billion in annual sales. The firm also owns the fashionable Capital Grille steakhouse chain.
Last month, the firm informed that its first-quarter net income had escalated by 19 per cent as revenue climbed at its restaurants.
Additionally, Darden has franchised LongHorn Steakhouse restaurants in Puerto Rico and has a license agreement for 25 Red Lobster restaurants in Japan.
Darden's shares have jumped by 34 per cent from a year ago.
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By Natalia Real