Indulge the Senses in Victorian Elegance
Shakespeare and Co. was established with the simple premise of serving both great quality food and friendly, efficient service in a warm, home-like atmosphere. Patrons can sip on their favourite beverages and enjoy French-style patisserie, surrounded by the splendour of 18th-century England.
Headquartered in the bustling, thriving metropolis of Dubai, Shakespeare and Co. continues to build upon its overwhelming success, opening more outlets worldwide, with plans of opening soon in Malaysia.
Franchise Asia speaks to Cyrus Graesslin, Regional Director of Operations/Franchises to find out more about this exciting venture.
■ Can you tell us about Shakespeare and Co.?
Shakespeare and Co. was established with the simple premise of serving quality food and providing friendly and efficient service in a comfortable, tranquil atmosphere. The first restaurant was established in the thriving Middle Eastern metropolis of Dubai in 2001 and the company currently owns and operates 21 outlets in the United Arab Emirates and the United States. Franchise operations have been established in Lebanon, Jordan, Qatar, and Oman. Shakespeare and Co. restaurants have become iconic and beloved for staying true to the philosophies upon which the company was founded. The design and décor of our restaurants are inspired by the Victorian Era, featuring plush antique sofas, to majestic chandeliers and vintage art.
Each restaurant is a meticulously created, extraordinary environment that oozes comfort and encourages great conversation. Our menu comprises classic dishes from the world’s favourite cuisines which reflect the rich diversity of the patrons who frequent our restaurants. We use classic methods and fresh ingredients; we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel – just quickly prepared, comfort food that persuades a nostalgic feeling of home.
■ With so many countries in Southeast Asia, what is the reason for choosing Malaysia for Shakespeare and Co.’s franchise expansion plan?
Malaysia is a market we have been keen to establish the Shakespeare and Co. brand and amongst the ASEAN nations, it offers a litany of unique competitive advantages. The financial sector has been a beacon of stability, even during the Asian and global financial crises. It is a well diversified, market oriented economy, with a politically stable government that has implemented pro-business policies that have ensured an environment conducive to success. The country features a well developed infrastructure and a young, educated and energetic
workforce. GDP growth has been modest, but steady and the country features attractive demographics including a dominant middle class.
The food and beverage sector has been particularly vibrant, with the F&B retail market expected to grow by 10 percent per annum and a consumer base whose tastes have become increasingly sophisticated. These important factors have fueled our belief that the Malaysian market is ripe for a multi-faceted concept such as Shakespeare and Co. to be well received by the local market and ultimately thrive.
■ With so much competition in the F&B business, what sets Shakespeare and Co. apart from other franchise operators? What is Shakespeare and Co.’s competitive advantage?
Over the past 12 years, Shakespeare and Co. has developed a franchise model that is built on real experience and success. The café-restaurant is the core franchise-able business, while the patisserie and catering modules can all be added individually as the restaurant business grows large enough to support them.
Shakespeare and Co.’s success is attributed to delivering quality food and service, with a personal touch. Our concept has become synonymous with consistency, and we now possess one of the strongest brand awareness levels in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region. We have successfully translated those attributes to our franchise model and operations. We provide comprehensive support from the moment the agreement is signed, until the doors finally open and beyond.
This is where our strength lies – all the preparation in the world is meaningless unless it is deftly implemented. Our post opening support is something we also take great pride in – we don’t just ensure a franchisee attains success, but maintains it. Our current franchisees will attest that our proven methodology of restaurant operation results in palpable success, with the ultimate reward of sooner than expected return on investment.
■ Who are Shakespeare and Co.’s target segments?
Our mantra has, and always will be, value for money. We believe in providing consistently good food and service, at reasonable prices. Our menu has also been designed to appeal to a wide range of palates, spanning the most popular cuisines from across the world, including an all day breakfast. Our restaurants have been designed to be elegant, yet cozy with an ambience that is comfortable for people from all walks of life. All of these attributes allows us to appeal to a broad spectrum of clientele of varying incomes and ethnicities and enables us to cater to a wide range of dining opportunities – be it an early breakfast, a business lunch, or an afternoon tea.
■ What is Shakespeare and Co.’s future plan for expanding its franchise concept? What is Shakespeare and Co.’s plan for Malaysia?
We currently have three successful franchises operating in Qatar, Oman, and Lebanon. Our first franchise in the Jordanian capital of Amman is due to open in April. We have also recently signed the territories of Iraq and Kuwait, and we expect our first stores there to open by early 2015. Our franchisee in Qatar began operating their first store in January 2013, and they have already secured and begun construction on their second and third locations due to open Q2 2014 and Q1 2015 respectively. Our Oman franchisee is currently in the process of finalising a second location as well.
Using our own operations in the UAE of over 21 stores – with the ultimate goal of 40 branches by 2017 – as a benchmark, we believe our franchisee’s success ultimately lies in successfully establishing and operating multiple stores. The Shakespeare and Co. brand has been well received in all the markets we have entered, and we are committed to supporting our franchisees to develop the brand to its full potential.
This philosophy is echoed in our plans for Malaysia, a country we feel harbours great potential with its breadth, diversity and major metropolises. Our first priority is, naturally, to establish the brand in the capital, Kuala Lumpur. However, we also see great opportunities in Malaysia’s other major cities, including, Penang, Johor Bahru, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu, and we aim to seek a franchise partner who shares the same vision.
■ What type of restaurant or business experience is Shakespeare and Co. looking for in franchise owners?
Our ideal partner should be well-capitalised with proven expertise in operating a successful business. Sound knowledge of the food and beverage industry is beneficial, but not a requisite. We believe in the brand’s potential and it is essential our partner embodies the same vision. Part of the master franchise agreement includes a development schedule of locations and timelines that have been mutually agreed upon and we expect to be adhered to. Ultimately, we believe the most important attributes are the passion and patience to endure the challenges of owning and managing a complex and demanding enterprise.
■ What comprehensive support and tools are offered by Shakespeare and Co.’s franchise system?
People often elect to franchise a concept because it is perceived as a ‘safer’ route to establishing a restaurant business, and that peace of mind is what franchisees can expect from the Shakespeare and Co. brand. We don’t just offer a turn-key franchise model. We offer full, relentless consultancy and support – from site selection, to training of key personnel, providing full architectural and MEP drawings, and pre-opening assistance with deployment of trained task force personnel who remain embedded on the ground until it is mutually agreed that the operation can sustain itself.
We do not relent once the restaurant is open – maintaining consistency is the key. Our franchise manuals provide the necessary knowledge base for successful day-to-day operations. Our marketing and design teams assist with all artwork and media/public relations initiatives. And our dedicated franchise team is always on hand to guide our franchisees through every aspect of the business.
■ How much is the initial investment and what is the time-frame for a new franchisee to see profit?
The term of a franchise agreement is 10 years, renewable at no cost. The franchise fee varies from territory to territory, royalty fees are set at 6 percent, and the total initial investment ranges from US$1 million to US$3 million. Franchisees can expect a return on investment within 18 to 24 months.
FRANCHISE KEY FACTS
Company Name: Shakespeare and Co.
Address: Po Box 73244 Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Phone: +971 4 329 10 40
Year Established: 2001
Type of Business: Food & Beverages
Franchise Fees: Depends on territory
Franchise Term (years): 10 years – renewable at no cost
Marketing/A & P Fund: Not Applicable – Artwork from Franchisor
Estimated Initial Capital: Minimum US$800,000