Turning a brand into a franchise is often one of the cheapest ways to expand outside a home market. That's how McDonald's and Subway became the world's biggest chains. At a franchise meeting in Dubai last week, Rory Jones checked out some new brands on the block East meets West with a blend of old and new
Hind Al Terkait concedes the Gulf is full of cafes and restaurants serving traditional Arabic coffee, food and sweet delicacies.
But that has not stopped her helping to set up the Kuwaiti bistro Cafe Bazza, or "Cafe Pearl" in English.
The marketing executive reckons that despite the thousands of Arabic cafes across the region, customers want something quirky.
"The new generation, they are used to [TGI] Friday's and Applebee's which are so western," says Ms Al Terkait. "We are trying to blend the old heritage of Kuwait with the new concept of modernised culture."
Visually, Cafe Bazza combines cultures, with signs on the wall that would not look out of place in an American diner, right next to Arabic pictures.
The brand serves both Arabic and western-style coffee, while the food is a mixture of East and West, with pizzas and burgers made from Arabic breads and spices.
A'amal Holding, a Kuwaiti conglomerate, set up the Cafe Bazza brand a year ago and has rolled out seven outlets across the country in that time. The company now plans to set up in the UAE.
"The idea for us is not to be tied in Kuwait and go out to other countries, the Gulf, because their culture is very similar to ours," says Ms Al Terkait. "We also want to go further afield to Europe."
Cafe Bazza hopes to sign a franchise partnership that will lead to five to six outlets within two years in the UAE.
Out to establish a footprint in the Arab world
Carrera Shoes are not to be confused with the popular Austrian sunglasses that already have a strong presence throughout the UAE.
Part of Carrera Jeans from Italy, the footwear operation aims to open more than five stores in every country in the Middle East during the next few years.
"We are selling the franchise for every country in the Arab world. One retailer in one country," says Tima Al Katib, the marketing and public relations manager for the brand in the Middle East.
"We already signed a contract in the Emirates, Iraq and Jordan. All different companies."
Ms Al Katib would not disclose the local UAE franchisee, but said three stores this year would be opened ahead of further expansion in the rest of the region. "They are retailers in the Middle East and they like the idea of opening Carrera. They have other brands but not shoes," she says.
Carrera Shoes are designed in Italy and made in China, costing US$60 (Dh220) to $100, in a range of styles for men, women and children. The brand has 13 stores in Italy and is sold in outlets including Carrefour and Auchan hypermarkets.
"Carrera is very famous in Italy from 1960," says Ms Al Katib. "We ship directly to the country. Let's say we have one agent in the Emirates, we forward the shipment directly to that country from China."
She added that the cost of setting up a Carrera Shoes franchise would vary depending on the number of stores and the size of each of those.
"More important than money is the quality and standard of the client.
"That's more important than the money they have," says Ms Al Katib.
Familiar favourite ready to broaden empire
Reem Al Bawadi does not claim to be a famous UAE brand but it is certainly popular among Dubai residents, with a total of 20,000 dining in one of its three restaurants every month.