Follow The Leader: Naim Maadad, Founder And CEO, Gates Hospitality
"There is no point in copying the success of others. Originality always has a market. Identity always has its own unique pedestal."
"I'm of the strong belief that as long as one is focused on a brand's viability and relevance in the market (while identifying a vacuum and filling that gap), profits will come automatically." That's Gates Hospitality founder and CEO Naim Maadad explaining how his company has built a veritable portfolio containing some of the UAE's most popular F&B concepts, which include Reform Social & Grill, Ultra Brasserie, Bistro Des Arts, and folly by Nick & Scott. Maadad, a veteran of the industry with more than 38 years of experience behind him, has led his enterprise by focusing on customer loyalty for all of his brands, a policy that he claims to have transcended the test of time, driving a business model that has succeeded even in adverse market conditions.
"I strongly believe in having a strong foundation, and then building on it," Maadad says. "More than ever before, you need a solid platform that does not shake when challenged. Finding solutions that fill a vacuum is what any business model is all about. There is no point in copying the success of others. Originality always has a market. Identity always has its own unique pedestal."
For those of you who have been to one of the many establishments that Gates Hospitality operates, Maadad's stress on authenticity when it comes to building brands shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. From the Parisian charm that is resplendent in Bistro des Arts, to the warm, rustic Alpine theme that headlines Publique, each of the F&B concepts under the Gates Hospitality umbrella professes a unique style and sensibility that is arguably hard to find anywhere else in Dubai's crowded dining scene. But all of this isn't something that happened by chance though- it's actually a testament to Maadad's vision for his enterprise. "Intrinsic to my mantra is the belief that quality does not happen by accident," Maadad says. "It must be planned. You need to have a commitment to execute plans that incrementally achieve goals. This requires an active mindset. Instead of waiting for circumstances to change, or reacting to market challenges, leading a company requires proactive thinking. However, it is often the case that motion is confused with results. Action for the sake of action does not lead to success, which is why planning and preparation are crucial."
According to Maadad, the MENA region remains ripe with opportunities; however, it does have its particular set of challenges that businesses need to be prepared to tackle. "The MENA is a region which has business conditions that sync with political triggers and changing demographics," he notes. "Of course, there is tremendous competition here as well as– any concept that has had success elsewhere in the globe cannot simply be replicated here, and expected to succeed on its own merits. It needs a clear adaptation to fit the market's unique culture and heritage– entrepreneurs need to identify a vacuum, and find solutions that fit that particular cog well enough to compete in a bigger picture." When asked how should they go about actually doing this, Maadad replies, "The business investor must focus on their brand's unique mission and pillars, and this can only happen if they are well-defined, rather than cookie-cutter imitations. They need to make sure they have leaders that are totally aligned with the ethos of the brand– leaders that strongly believe in the brand, and live its values on a daily basis."
And this, in essence, reflects the principles which Maadad uses to lead his enterprise from one success to another. "Given the market realities and business environment in the region, we're laser focused on building a sense of belonging through experiences that enrich the lives of our customers," Maadad declares. "Our brand pillars and ethos are more than words. They're being driven with passion and zeal, day-in day-out… People have money to invest, but passion to sustain and unwavering commitment is what eventually ensures success. There is always the right time to invest, the right atmosphere to flourish, and the right playing field for an opportunity. The culinary industry is not a fashion statement– it is a passion for life-long commitment for the brand pillars."
INDUSTRY INTEL: Gates Hospitality founder and CEO Naim Maadad shares tips for entrepreneurs
1. KNOW YOUR ENTERPRISE INSIDE OUT
"Engage deeply in the daily business operations. Understand the business vacuum to fill in the marketplace."
2. YOUR TEAM IS YOUR STRENGTH
"Be connected with the people that run your business."
3. KNOW WHAT YOU STAND FOR
"Keep the brand ethos simple, and never sacrifice its consistency."
4. LIVE YOUR VALUES
"Passionately embrace your brand pillars, and live them every single day."
5. LEAD BY EXAMPLE
"There is no room for the driver to take a back seat. The culinary business is no exception. Focus– and focus hard!"