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Bean There, Done That: The Coffee Club Comes To The GCC General Manager Michael Chick talks about the brand's beginnings in Australia, to their expansion model to UAE and beyond.

By Pamella de Leon

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

The Coffee Club
The Coffee Club at Wasl Vita Mall

With more than 300 outlets spread across nine countries that include Australia, New Zealand, China, and Bali, The Coffee Club is now venturing into the Middle East, beginning by setting up shop in the UAE at the Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi and Wasl Vita Mall in Dubai. Bringing The Coffee Club (which, incidentally, is Australia's largest home-grown cafe group) to the region is Liwa Minor Food and Beverages LLC, the joint venture company of local operator Al Nasser Holdings, and Minor Food Group, the company that owns The Coffee Club brand.

You might be thinking: another coffee shop? Given the number of local and international coffee brands already in the UAE, is The Coffee Club worried about being in an over saturated market? Liwa Minor Food & Beverages LLC General Manager Michael Chick, who previously worked with kicking off The Coffee Club brand in Thailand, Malaysia and Maldives, dismisses the notion, pointing toward the cafe's food menu as being its USP. "Where we've been successful in other countries is because of the food's standard," Chick says, adding that the brand "caters to the taste buds" of both locals and expats who may be already familiar with the brand.

Michael Chick, General Manager of Liwa Minor Food & Beverages LLC and Gaurav Narain, Head of Operations of Liwa Minor Food & Beverages LLC

Choosing the UAE as the first MENA country to venture in was an obvious choice, as it was the "perfect gateway to GCC," according to Chick. The company's plan is to have 10 outlets in the UAE this year –with seven of those already confirmed in the pipeline- following up with branches in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain. "We'll operate our own outlets," says Chick, noting that The Coffee Club is keen on establishing its brand in the region. "We want to ensure that the brand [here] matches with the initial vision of the founders."

So does The Coffee Club have a formula for success for its expansion efforts? Chick thinks that it's all about finding a suitable partner with the right capabilities- besides being financially competent, the partner would also need to have the commitment to operate an F&B business, and be passionate about it as well. "It's one of those industries where if you don't really love food, or F&B, then it's hard to be successful," says Chick.

Pamella de Leon

Startup Section Editor, Entrepreneur Middle East

Pamella de Leon is the Startup Section Editor at Entrepreneur Middle East. She is keen on the MENA region’s entrepreneurship potential, with a specific interest to support enterprises and individuals creating an impact.

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