How does a start-up create a niche for itself in a competitive industry landscape, and go on to become one of the region’s most popular food chains? We asked Jihad El Eit, Founder of Man’oushe Street, to share highlights of his successful entrepreneurial journey…
What inspired you to build Man’oushe Street?
For us, Man’oushe is synonymous to the traditional Lebanese breakfast or snack item that you would get at small family-run corner bakeries. The idea was to take this homemade concept and make it available to all. We wanted to keep the authenticity of the recipe, but still elevate it to the next level. That’s how Man’oushe Street was born. We take immense pride in the world-class quality of our menu offerings and our commitment to excellence that is reflected in how we prepare the food to the way we deliver it to your doorstep — true value for money.
Did you undertake any market research?
Yes, absolutely! As an entrepreneur, it is significant to do your homework and ascertain the direction you want to take your company in. After we successfully opened our first two branches in Mizher and Barsha, I started looking at global F&B models and studied the critical factors driving their growth. I should also add here that market research is just the first step, you need to be able to take calculated risks as well.
How many locations does Man’oushe Street currently have?
We have 24 locations across the region out of which 12 are company-owned locations here in the UAE. We are also operating across Egypt, Kuwait and Qatar. Our vision is to be available on every street and to cater to every customer that likes Man’oushe. The plan is to add another 10 locations by 2016 and continue our fast-paced expansion. The important thing to note is that we aren’t just looking to roll-out more locations, we also want to ensure top-quality food and customer satisfaction.
How do you ensure that your core offer stands out in today’s competitive F&B market?
There are countless concepts available today but we believe we are different because we are the ‘recipe of the people’. We are strongly investing in our people – the team of Man’oushe Street. Yes, our food is great – of course that is the core concept, but it is the team behind the food that makes us so successful.
What do you consider as critical factors contributing to your company’s success?
I think there are three fundamental factors driving our growth. They are: quality of our food and service; professionalism of the staff; and the locations of our outlets.
Are you also looking into franchising?
Eqypt, Kuwait and Qatar are markets we currently have franchising operations in. We are working very closely with a consultant from the UK to understand the nuances of running franchises. After five years of running local operations, we finally felt confident to start franchising and it is a model that has worked very well for our business.
What are key challenges you are faced with as you look to take Man’oushe Street to the next level?
As you grow, the biggest challenge is to maintain quality – both in terms of the food we serve and customer service. Real estate is another critical factor; we need to be present at the right locations within the region to dominate the retail space.
Is there a message you’d like to share with your customers?
I’d like to thank all our customers for their incredible support and love towards the brand. We are extremely grateful for their acceptance and for making Man’oushe Street a ‘household’ brand.
As the leader of a popular F&B brand, what keeps you motivated?
In today’s evolving business landscape, it is so important to stay abreast of the changing dynamics – you have to be involved within your business 24/7; there is no downtime! Moreover, the Man’oushe Street team is so energetic; almost every day one of my team members approaches me with a new business idea or a fresh recipe – it is this kind of passion and excitement that essentially keeps me going.
How do you see the brand shaping up in the next year?
We are constantly enhancing our menu and will look to uplift the menu options by the end of 2015. Of course we are continuously striving to increase the awareness of our brand and the delicious food we offer. We also have a team dedicated to innovation strategies that helps us evolve and stay ahead of the curve.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs in the region?
A comfortable life will not take you to the next level. If you have a dream, just go out there and achieve it. Don’t be scared, stay confident and surround yourself with the right people.
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Rushika Bhatia Editor
Rushika Bhatia is one of the region’s leading commentators on business and current affairs issues. She is the Editor of SME Advisor magazine - the flagship title of CPI Business. She is passionate about infographics – with special emphasis on data, research and statistics. Rushika has a Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University, USA and is also CIMA qualified.