Founded almost 125 years ago, the UK based beverage concept ‘Whittard of Chelsea’ has partnered with Al Madani Group to develop the brand across the Middle East. In an interaction, Mohammed Al Madani, Chairman & CEO, Al Madani Group shares brand’s further expansion.
Namita Bhagat (NB): What is the brand ‘Whittard of Chelsea’ all about? How has been the brand’s journey so far?
Mohammed Al Madani (MAM): Headquarter in the United Kingdom (UK), Whittard of Chelsea came into being in 1886. The brand offers the finest tea, coffee, and hot chocolate products. Since its inception, Whittard has been selecting and blending exceptional teas and limited edition coffee. Today, Whittard of Chelsea is a considerably larger enterprise than in 1886, but still offers the unique retail experience that Walter began 125 years ago. There are more than 70 ‘Whittard of Chelsea’ stores across the UK. The number of Whittard stores is growing around the world, including UAE, Chile, Thailand, Cyprus, China, Romania and beyond.
NB: What is the nature of the agreement signed between Al Madani Group and Whittard?
MAM: Al Madani Group has the master franchise rights for Whitthard for countries namely the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Qatar, and Oman. We are also negotiating the rights for Kuwait, Iran, Jordan, KSA, and Lebanon.
NB: How many owned stores and /or franchisees do you have at present?
MAM: We currently have four Whittard of Chelsea locations under operation in the emirates. We are expecting to open one more soon. Furthermore, there are plans to open three more outlets by the end of this year. Therefore, brand is looking to have a total of eight brand outlets in the near future.
NB: What are the other products offered by the brand?
MAM: Besides, a wide variety of tea, coffee, and hot chocolate flavours, the company also offer its customers a wide variety of tea, coffee, and hot chocolate flavours along with a limited edition of ‘ceramics’. Whether you want to mix and match with our hand-painted ceramics, or enjoy the elegance of fine bone china, the exclusive collections are designed to complement all your favourite hot drinks.
NB: Could you share the required investment for opening a Whitthard location?
MAM: For opening a single unit of Whitthard, the franchise fee is about USD 20,000. Moreover, for opening each additional unit, a franchisee will have to pay fee of USD10,000 In case a potential partner is looking for territorial rights, it will actually depend on the country as well as number of outlets that he expects to operate. We offer a five year development plan.
NB: What is area requirement to open the brand’s outlet?
MAM: For opening a Whittard of Chelsea outlet, the minimum area requirement is 100 sq. m in order to designate a space for the coffee shop and a space for the retail area.
NB: What kind of training and support will be provided to the franchisee?
MAM: The company provides its franchisees complete support, from site selection, lease negotiation, design and construction, recruitment, equipment and products purchasing, marketing, comprehensive training, store opening, to a full support and follow up after opening as well.
NB: What kind of competition do you expect from other beverage brands whether home grown or international brands?
MAM: The brand strives to offer quality products that are valued for money. We have been in the hospitality industry for a while; therefore, the company keeps on training its staff on regular basis, on how to provide the valued customers a good ‘customer service’.