Jones the Grocer has been specializing in fine dining since 1996 in Australia. Tell us about its growth, scale and revenue in the Middle East over the past few years?
The first Jones the Grocer store opened in Abu Dhabi in 2009 and the second on Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai in 2010 and since then it has been a unique journey of learning and growth. These two stores are a benchmark for casual dining in the UAE and the region. Today, in 2022, we have 23 stores with system revenue exceeding $32 million and several more openings throughout this year and next.
Our uniqueness comes from two folds. We prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner from scratch. Nothing is bought. Each recipe has batch recipes – in other words, if a dish uses vegetable stock, we boil the vegetables with herbs and garlic to make the stock rather than buying it ready made. use. It’s about getting the best flavor that outshines anyone else in our space.
We bake our bread from scratch, no pre-mixes. Just butter, flour, eggs and yeast. We also make our own pastry, all this every day. We roast our coffee locally according to our recipe and pour a fantastic cup. On the retail side, our stores typically sell 200-900 small-batch gourmet artisan food products of global and local origin, half of which are exclusive to us and approximately 30% are Jones the Grocer branded. We have a walk-in artisanal cheese and charcuterie, we organize culinary workshops for children and cooking classes for adults.
How do you grow an F&B business through franchising while maintaining a strong identity?
Our recipe for success is solid, time-tested, constantly improving, and well-documented operating systems paired with training and compliance – these elements are our backbone for credible franchise expansion. We audit all of our partners monthly for brand and operations compliance and work with them to soak up all things Jones the Grocer to deliver consistently good and memorable experiences in our stores.
Our goal is to tickle food lovers with natural ingredients from different parts of the globe. Our highlights include jones traditional full english breakfast, homemade coconut pancakes, jones chicken caesar salad, fillet of sea bass and the ultimate Mr Jones burger. Not to mention the plethora of mouth-watering desserts and specialty drinks. Jones has options for everyone, from vegans to meat lovers.
Tell us about your strategic partnerships with hotels?
Hotels have always been an attractive proposition for us. They are brilliant at selling rooms but often not so good at their laid back F&B. There is a natural synergy between quality hotel brands and us. We increase dwell time at properties by providing dining and entertainment throughout the day. We organize events such as cooking classes and children’s workshops that appeal to resort hotels. Our gourmet deli, artisan cheese and charcuterie offer guests the opportunity to eat great food in their rooms or serviced apartments. Our recent partnerships include Delta by Marriott, with the opening of a Jones the Grocer store at their JBR property.
Shed light on the region’s F&B industry trends and your expansion plans?
F&B seems to be back after the covid break in Dubai. Abu Dhabi has yet to get back to where it was before covid. Regionally, Riyadh and Doha are hotspots. But I feel like the rent-to-income ratios are still out of kilter. There is pressure on good operators to behave like showmen, beyond cooking and serving food, to extract every last drop of revenue in imaginative ways, maybe not sustainable.
As it stands, we are going through a vast phase of both regional and global expansion. The next six months will be busy with the opening of 10 stores in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, India and the United Arab Emirates, Dubai in particular. Looking forward to 2023, we have further expansion into Saudi Arabia and India, and site plans for the UK.