New Zealand coffee chain Esquires has struck a deal to bring the successful franchise to Oman and Qatar.
The first outlets are expected to open within six months and the deal could lead to at least another 14 Esquires coffee houses opening in the two Gulf countries.
Esquires currently has 16 franchised stores operating in the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and the UAE, and this new deal means it has commitments for more than 80 Esquires outlets in the influential Arab economic alliance.
Owner of the Esquires brand NZX-listed Cooks Global Foods, holds the worldwide franchising rights excluding Canada, New Zealand and Australia.
The co-founder of Esquires in New Zealand and executive director of Cooks, Stuart Deeks said the Qatar and Oman territory deal is very important for the business.
"It paves the road to quickly scale the business and build excellent profitability in one of the fastest growing markets in the global food and beverage franchising world," Deeks said.
"Brand New Zealand is very well regarded in the GCC where there is significant awareness and respect for all things Kiwi."
There are now close to 120 Esquires coffee house around the world; including more than 45 throughout New Zealand, 35 in the UK and Ireland, 9 in China and 13 in Canada.
The growth of Esquires has led to the company recently buying Kiwi store design firm Design Environments, which Deeks says has been creating the coffee shop chain's interiors for the past decade.
"It (the acquisition)... enables us to bring design and brand management in house for Esquires for a much more efficient supply chain from a new profit centre for the group supporting a strong existing client base," Deeks said.
Up to 12 new franchises will open in the Middle East this year alone, and Deeks says the high incomes and westernised food and beverage culture in the GCC could provide a great opportunity for other Kiwi companies.
Kiwi burger chain BurgerFuel has also tasted success in the Middle East opening franchises in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, and there are plans to open a store in Egypt.
"The fact that we (BurgerFuel and Esquires) both target the same markets highlights the huge opportunity for New Zealand food and beverage operators to profitably export consumables and provide intellectual property and systems into the region," Deeks said.
Esquires was founded in Canada in 1993, where another firm holds the rights, and the Deeks brothers established the business in Australasia before selling the Australia and NZ franchise rights to ASX-listed Retail Food Group for $11.6 million in 2011.
Cooks is currently in discussions with the Canadian rights holder to integrate the Canadian intellectual property into the Cooks group.
In October last year, Cooks acquired New Zealand organic and Fairtrade tea company Scarborough Fair, and its products will soon be sold at all Esquires stores worldwide.
Fairtrade organic coffee is roasted in Auckland is also supplied to Esquires franchises and all other consumables are sourced from New Zealand and sent to stores worldwide.
Shares in Cooks Global Foods are up 13.3 per cent this morning on the announcement.