Fakhreddine says his brands have a real opportunity for scalability in Saudi Arabia.
After launching in Beirut, 7 Management has grown with speed over the past year, with five openings in the past few months in Dubai. After years of success in Lebanon, the brand moved to Dubai and launched Seven Sisters with a bang, followed by Antika Bar. Since then, 7 Management has opened The Theatre, February 30, BO18, Le Rose, Cafe Beirut and, most recently, Lucias.
Caterer Middle East sat down with Rabih Fakhreddine, founder and CEO of the hospitality group, to chat about big plans he has for the next few years.
He said, “I am very proud of the work we have done so far in Saudi Arabia. We’ve already launched two of our well-loved brands to our customers and fans in Riyadh and we will soon be structuring 7 Management in KSA with several exciting international names from our portfolio.”
At the end of 2021, Fakhreddine entered the Saudi market with Café Beirut at Riyadh Boulevard and an Antika pop-up at the Oasis area, as part of Riyadh season.
He said: “Café Beirut is located on the boulevard in the heart of Riyadh, facing the Riyadh fountain with more than 200 seats both indoor and outdoor. It is a permanent venue, while Antika is currently a pop-up. It has indoor and outdoor seating and live entertainment to go along with great Lebanese food.” According to Fakhreddine, the two concepts were a runaway success. “Cafe Beirut has a lot of scalability in Saudi Arabia. I see three more launching in Riyadh, maybe two in Jeddah and one in Khobar in the near future.”
A market that doesn’t depend on tourists
What Fakhreddine loves about Saudi Arabia is that the market isn’t affected by the tourist season. He said: “It is 95 percent a local market and they are hungry for something new. Especially when it comes from the region.”
He added: “Back in the 1990s it was common to see international imports. They were mostly casual eateries, then, in the early 2000s, came a shift towards more homegrown outlets. However, back then the focus was mainly on cafes. The cafe was where people used to hang out. It was a socially acceptable venue to enjoy a night out. Because of that, there weren’t many lifestyle brands and now that more high-end concepts and lifestyle brands are launching in Saudi, we had to be a part of it.”
Fakhreddine was already in negotiations to launch his venues in the Kingdom before the pandemic. He said: “7 Management was approached by the General Entertainment Authority in Saudi Arabia so that we can expand our concepts there. And Saudi, as a market, has plenty of room for growth. I find it so unique. Saudi Arabia to me is the name of the game.
“The city is evolving at a very fast pace. It is becoming more open to new ideas, more liberal and a place that a lot of brands want to be seen. Saudi’s F&B market is still so young, it has room for so much. I see it as such a powerful destination, that I am establishing 7 Management KSA. Dubai will be the regional office, but we will definitely have a structure in the Kingdom. Over there, they generally love Lebanese concepts, music, and design. So I expect The Theatre, Antika and Seven Sisters to be opened in Saudi within the next three years.
7 Management in Qatar, Egypt and more
“I am expanding aggressively in Qatar,” Fakhreddine said. “We are so excited for 2022 there. You have the world cup and a big tourism boom taking place there soon. We currently have the number one nightlife venue there with Antika at the Kempinski Hotel in Qatar. We opened a year ago and partnered up with Al Fardan Hospitality and we opened Antika there. We are also opening February 30 and launching BO18, as well as Seven Sisters. We are also in negotiations with Cafe Beirut.”
“We’re also focusing a lot on Egypt on Cairo and the North Coast and expanding to Europe with our brand February 30 next year in Athens, Greece. I believe that Athens is a market that has a lot of potential, we will do a lot there across our portfolio. We also have aspirations to have The Theater in London and Las Vegas in the next two to three years.”