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Coffeehouse Chain to Spread Throughout KSA

I see that New Zealand-based coffee chain Esquires has struck a ‘dream’ deal with a Saudi Arabian sheikh, allowing its highly successful concept will be exported to the Middle East.

The Deeks family, which owns the Canadian-developed Esquires franchise rights outside Europe and North America, has 61 stores in New Zealand, Fiji, China, and the United Arab Emirates and has just signed an agreement in Saudi Arabia with Sheikh Anas Abu Dawood.

The sheikh’s family owns one of the biggest consumer goods trading and exporting companies in the Middle East. “You can’t find a house without his products throughout most of the Middle East. So these guys are dream partners,” Stuart Deeks said.

The first of a planned 35 stores has already opened in the Red Sea Mall in Jeddah. Two further stores will open their doors in Jeddah within the next three months. From there the objective is to open four stores every twelve months across the country until the agreed number is operating.

The stores will be different from those in other parts of the world, with separate areas for men and women in order to accommodate the Islamic culture that the two sexes not socialize in public. “It’s required by religion and law,” Sheikh Anas explained to his overseas partners. “There are nice sections for women and children.”

He said with no bars or clubs – or alcohol – coffee houses were increasingly popular, especially for men who went to play chess or backgammon.”The next generation, who have studied in the US and Europe, have come back with a craving for coffee.” He said popular European coffee was fast replacing traditional chai tea and bitter Arabic coffee – often served with cardamom, saffron or other herbs and with no sugar or milk.

Rod Millington

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