Future Hospitality Blog 1

Last month we headed to the Future Hospitality Summit in Riyadh which, as always, brought together the region’s industry leaders for discussions and insights on the continued growth of the Kingdom’s hospitality and tourism sectors.

Our Managing Partner (F&B Consulting) Stefan Breg led a panel discussion about the future of the KSA dining market to establish whether it will follow in the footsteps of other markets or carve out its own unique growth path. We were honoured to have a broad range of talents on stage with us very much representing the future of KSA, each with their own unique and successful track record. The panel comprised of Hashim al Attas of Leylaty, Andrew Williamson of Red Sea Global and Abdulhalim Awlia of NEOM.

The key outtake from the panel was that nothing was likely to stop the Kingdom following its own distinct path of F&B development. A view that matches our own. We have been lucky enough see Dubai develop over the last 20+ years and we’re more convinced than ever that the KSA market will shape its own destiny and ultimately produce something unmatched on both the regional and international stage. There are already signs of a burgeoning entrepreneurially led market as Saudi-owned concepts open.
The panel discussed parallels with how London’s restaurant market developed. In the 80s, London was not a dining market that people talked about and the city wasn’t in Europe’s premier league of dining destinations. There were even signs that London was mimicking the US in many ways, with the arrival of well-known American QSR and casual dining brands and there was virtually no English or British cuisine on offer. This was re-discovered and blossomed beautifully in the 90s to establish itself now as a key part of the offer in London. 
The Kingdom can learn from this in some ways and shape Saudi cuisine in a number of formats; traditional, contemporary and progressive. We are excited to be playing our part of shaping the dining market in the Kingdom and are already working on briefs to develop concepts like this; from entrepreneurs to ‘giga’ developments.

Future Hospitality Blog 1.

The discussions around the growth of casual dining in the Kingdom were mirrored by the findings from our bespoke market research study into the dining habits of over a thousand KSA residents across 8 key cities. 

We found the consumer sentiment around the restaurant sector in KSA remains overwhelmingly positive with 85% of respondents agreeing that the standards of restaurants had improved in the last 3 years. 70% will keep or increase their frequency of dining out which is a very positive outlook on the potential growth of the sector.

There is a striking degree of entrepreneurialism too; a whopping 53% of Saudis believed they would invest in an F&B business in the next 5 years. And whilst high-end venues are growing and dominating the media, casual offers have more than doubled in the last 8 years. When compared to other regional markets, KSA still has significant headroom to grow the casual dining market  – the UAE for instance, has twice as many casual venues per capita.

Our research confirmed the appetite for casual offers and unsurprisingly, international brands were the very obvious favourites – with Saudis wanting even more. Homegrown local offers were not viewed as favourably, however. Our interpretation of this is that the high-quality and consistently delivered homegrown offers have yet to be evenly distributed throughout the Kingdom; much like the under-developed London market of the 80’s

Our research re-enforced this with the widespread popularity of well-distributed, casual, homegrown offers such as Kudu and Al Baik, which are universally popular with Saudis, regardless of income bracket.

Our main outtakes from both the panel and research study shared at the Future Hospitality Summit was one of immense positivity for the KSA hospitality market. We can see the Kingdom taking its own distinct path of F&B development and one that would benefit from an addition of homegrown and local offers, done well. 

We believe that savvy investors will start looking to develop these homegrown offers underpinned by world-class standards, processes and disciplines to compete with the international mass-market brands that have been able to dominate the market for 40 years – and that’s an exciting future that we’re delighted to be a part of.

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