Shaking Up The (Food) Scene: UAE-Based Entrepreneurs Ranya And Khaled Fadly Launch KR & Co To Unify Their 17 F&B Concepts With the launch of KR & Co, a 10,000 sq. ft. central production facility in Dubai that operates on a cloud kitchen business model, the Fadlys are looking to further cement their position in the UAE's F&B sector.

By Aalia Mehreen Ahmed

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KR & Co
Ranya and Khaled Fadly, co-founders, KR & Co (1)

Four years. 17 F&B concepts. 21 locations. And now, one umbrella firm to house all of it. That is one way of summarizing the launch of Kreative Restaurants & Co (KR & Co), a UAE-based multi-concept holding company that operates the plethora of food brands launched by husband-and-wife duo, Khaled and Ranya Fadly.

The Fadlys started out in the F&B business in 2017 by launching Poke & Co, which, as its name suggests, is centered on its offering of poke, the Hawaiian specialty that they make using the traditional ingredient of raw fish, as well as alternatives like cooked chicken, salmon, shrimp, and tofu. "We'd always dreamt of opening our own restaurant, but we knew that for us to be successful, we had to be different," Khaled says, as he recalls the venture's launch. "It was during a trip to London that we tried poke for the first time, and we immediately predicted that this fresh and healthy concept would excel greatly in the UAE. We believed in our idea so strongly that we decided to leave the safety and stability of our corporate jobs and launch our very first restaurant, Poke & Co."

Four years since that first plunge into entrepreneurship, the duo now operates 17 "& Co" brands across 21 locations in six Emirates, using a combination of brick-and-mortar restaurants, as well as delivery-only outlets. 13 of its brands, including Mochi & Co, Keto & Co, Bagel & Co, Salad & Co and Asian & Co, operate as delivery-only concepts, across the 21 locations, while Poke & Co, Acai & Co, and Chick'n Co also operate also as dine-in restaurants. "We also offer Prep & Co, which is a monthly subscription service that provides daily meals across several dietary plans to customers UAE-wide, whereas Cook Fresh offers at-home meal kits that are delivered directly to our customers," Ranya adds.

KR & Co's Dubai-based 10,000 sq. ft. central production facility operates on a cloud kitchen business model. Source: KR & Co

Now, with the launch of KR & Co, a 10,000 sq. ft. central production facility in Dubai that operates on a cloud kitchen business model, the Fadlys are looking to further cement their position in the UAE's F&B sector, with all 17 of their concepts now set to be operated under a single umbrella. According to Ranya, there are plenty of reasons that led to the rapid expansion of their brands, which also ultimately led to the creation of KR & Co. The quintessential entrepreneurial traits like risk-taking and adaptability to market trends are mentioned, but there is one element in particular that appears to have been a constant for the co-founding pair right from the start. "Following our initial launch, our community of loyal diners grew, and we took the time to listen to their feedback, and then made alterations that were recommended by them," Ranya says. "We focused exclusively on creating quality brands that added valuable and customizable dining experiences with extensive ordering options. Most of our brands today allow customers to build their own dishes, or fully customize an existing menu item."

And throughout their entrepreneurial journey so far, Khaled says the duo's passion for food has been a constant driving force. "Four years later, we are still as passionate about what we do, and continuously embrace the thrill and excitement of launching a new brand, a new location, or even a new vertical," he says.

Acai & Co is one out of the 13 delivery-only brands launched by the Fadlys. Source: KR & Co

Related: Dubai-Based Online Food Delivery Concept Mama Rita Brings A New Spin To Homecooked Meals

This consistent growth is, in many ways, reflective of the local F&B industry in itself. In 2021 alone, over 1,300 new F&B outlets were launched in Dubai- a statistic that depicts just how saturated and competitive the sector is. But this is also an industry that has collectively felt the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years. Here is where the Fadly's story becomes intriguing. While many of their peers struggled with the unpredictability of the COVID-19 crisis, the Fadly's launched over 10 virtual F&B brands and 13 dine-in locations, while also managing to keep their entire team on board. "At the start of the pandemic, we only had three brands and eight brick-and-mortar locations, with a very big focus on dine-in," Khaled notes. "But as restrictions were implemented, we lost more than 70% of our sales overnight, and we had to make a call on our next steps. We were faced with two options: either scale down our operations and team, or pivot our business model and focus on our deliveries and cloud kitchens. Being the risk-takers that we are, we chose the second option and expanded our business, believing it was the only way we would survive the loss of sales."

Source: KR & Co

Their aforementioned approach of constantly seeking consumer feedback would also explain why Ranya and Khaled specifically opted to focus on a cloud kitchen model for their business during this period. "The main reason for our shift to cloud kitchens is due to the change in our consumers' behavior," Ranya explains. "With more people working remotely, we noticed that a customer would visit one of our branches three times a month, whereas that same customer could get a meal delivered from any of our concepts every single day!"

Khaled also points out that making use of a hybrid model of cloud kitchens and brick-and-mortar establishments has largely worked in their enterprise's favor throughout the pandemic. "Having direct storefronts available to the public allows customers to physically experience our brand ethos, as well as build trust with our brands by seeing our quality and food safety standards," he says. "But having cloud kitchens that offer immediate and convenient delivery also allows customers to enjoy our brands from the comfort of their homes."

It is this success that the Fadly's now hope to replicate through the launch of KR & Co- a move that signals the start of their expansion plans outside the UAE too. "We are currently developing over 15 new brands, and we are also aiming to launch our first locations outside of the UAE, with plans to expand into Saudi Arabia and Oman in March, as well as multiple locations in major capital cities such as Paris, London, and Madrid in the next three to six months," Ranya says.

Moving forward, with so many different cuisines and concepts under their supervision, the husband-and-wife duo remain confident about one thing: the quality of food they provide. "We aim to become our customers' one-stop-shop for food delivery, offering a consistently pleasant experience regardless of what is ordered," says Khaled. "Eventually, in the long run, we also aim to create virtual food halls that combine all our brands in one physical space where customers can select multiple dishes from across all of our menus!"

Related: Vietnamese Foodies Owner And Executive Chef Lily Hoa Nguyen On Growing Her Business From Strength To Strength

Aalia Mehreen Ahmed

Features Writer, Entrepreneur Middle East

Aalia Mehreen Ahmed is the Features Writer at Entrepreneur Middle East.

She is an MBA (Finance) graduate with past experience in the corporate sector, and was also co-founder of CyberSWIFTT- an anti-cyberbullying campaign that ran from 2017-2018 as part of the e7: Daughters of the Emirates program.

Ahmed is keen on pursuing and writing stories on people-centric leadership, female-owned startups, and entrepreneurs who've beaten significant odds to realize their goals.

A bibliophile, chai addict, and photography enthusiast, she can be often found (animatedly) talking about Kdramas, BTS, cricket, novels, and comic book films.

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