Dubai-based Pickl reveals mouth-watering global expansion plans

Ashley Griffiths, chief licensing officer, revealed plans will involve between a quarter and a third of owned and operated venues and the rest made up of Pickl franchisees

Dubai-based success story Pickl is looking to take a bite out of the F&B markets in two of the biggest economies in the world, as part of ambitious regional and international expansion plans.

The company, which opened its doors in the emirate’s Jumeirah Lakes Towers just two years ago, currently boasts six stores across Dubai, with two openings planned for Abu Dhabi and a schedule to have 14 Pickl outlets throughout the UAE by the end of 2022.

But the growth plans do not stop there – with 200 new stores targeted in the next five years.

Ashley Griffiths, chief licensing officer at Pickl, told Arabian Business: “Bearing in mind we are a UAE-based and started brand and that our first kind of footprint will be the GCC, I think 200 is reasonable. I think we can get circa 50 in the GCC if we can get full coverage there over the next five years, but then we will rely on expansion into other continents as well to achieve that 200 number.”

When Griffiths talks of the GCC, a large part of that will be expansion into Saudi Arabia, where he revealed they are currently talking to “multiple potential partners, potential franchisees” and pitching anywhere between 20-to-40 sites over the five-year period.

Ashley Griffiths, chief licensing officer at Pickl.

“It can roll up pretty aggressively there depending on who we decide to partner with,” he said.

And from there, he said there would be openings in Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait, as well as potentially 10-to-15 new stores in Egypt.

Then it’s Europe, Asia and the world, with further plans for the UK, Singapore and what Griffiths called “the golden goose” in the US, as well as China.

He said: “We’ll look to do a flagship store (in the US), although we’ve not confirmed where we’ll do that. We’ll look to make the noise in our flagship store over there, and then franchises across the country.

“And we can’t rule out China. China is huge. They do seem to be enjoying their burgers at the moment, so who knows, we will get to the 200.”

Griffiths explained that the growth plans will involve between a quarter and a third of owned and operated venues and the rest made up of Pickl franchisees.

Pickl was founded by burger fanatic Steve Flawith in 2019 with one simple aim – to make fresh, fast food using only hormone- and antibiotic-free beef and chicken.

“What’s important to us is the product and the brand that we’ve created and keeping the consistency. And in order to do that, I think you need a healthy balance,” he said. “Franchising helps you expand quicker. Obviously from a funding perspective it’s not easy to do that all yourself if you want to grow across the globe, so franchising plays an important role.”

And with the target of 200 new stores, Griffiths is currently busy meeting potential new partners, something which he said was akin to a first date experience as they look to build long-lasting relationships.

“It sounds cliche, but we’re entering into multiple marriages. This is a relationship that’s going to last for years, hopefully, and you need to make sure you pick the right person. There’s a lot of factors to consider. Some of the stuff that I love doing is meeting people, getting to know them and saying, do I want to be speaking to this person every day for the next 20 years?” he said.

Pickl has so far been bootstrapped, with profits ploughed back into the company to increase its presence in Dubai. But Griffiths refused to rule out raising funds in the future.

He said: “Moving forward, will there be any fundraising? I think you can never say never. We’ve invested heavily now in the infrastructure, from the marketing, from the training, from the operational side, and we’ll continue to do that.

“Should funding be needed in the future, who knows, but obviously, franchising, there are fees that need to be paid by potential franchisees as well. So we try and keep a healthy balance there.”

Pickl was founded by burger fanatic Steve Flawith in 2019 with one simple aim – to make fresh, fast food using only hormone- and antibiotic-free beef and chicken.

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