By Scott Lehr, CFE, Senior Vice President, U.S. & International Development, International Franchise Association
The US Franchise Trade Mission to the Middle East hit its 3rd stop today in Cairo Egypt and just in time for the opening of the 2013 MIFE – Middle East International Franchise Exhibition.
The mission picked up two additional participants that were not with the group in UAE – Johnny Rocket’s represented by Steve Devine and Wing Zone represented by Hair Parra.
The delegation participants were all welcomed at the opening of the trade show with a reception that included Mr. Hatem Saleh, the Minister of Industry and Trade; Mr. Tarek Tawfik, Chairman of the Egyptian Franchise Development Association and Ghada Fathi Waly, Managing Director of the Social Fund for Development who participated in cutting the ribbon to open the show.
Several U.S. Brands and their Master Franchisee were present and exhibiting at the show including Gold’s Gym’s Master for Egypt; Maui Wowi’s master franchisee for Egypt, Emad Fahim; and Papa John’s Pizza Master Franchisee for Egypt, represented by Sharif Galal. Sharif commented that they currently have 14 locations open and operating with plans to have more than 25 within the next few years. Maui Wowi’s Master Franchisee Emad Fahim reported that he has not yet opened their first location but has plans to be open within the year and is actively seeking local franchisees for the brand.
The group then sat down for another full day of one-on-one visits with prequalified candidates from the greater Cairo area. The Commercial Service team then brought the delegation to a wonderful dinner cruise on the Nile to complete the evening.
Day 5 of the mission began with a tour of a few new retail projects in the suburbs of New Cairo including Cairo Festival City which is owned by Al-Futtaim out of the UAE. This project spanning over 700 acres is a mixed use urban community complete with shopping, dining, entertainment, schools, hotels and residential villas and apartments. Franchise brands already booked into the community include IKEA, Toys r Us, Kidzania, The Little Gym, KFC, Pizza Hut, Burger King and The Cheesecake Factory. With Egypt’s GDP growth now hovering around 1.2% down from the pre-revolution growth of 5.6%, it seems that will be some time before all the buildings are filled however it is a good time to be securing space for brands that want to be in the market.
The evening brought a distinguished dinner bringing together VIP’s from the Egyptian Franchise Development Association, the Social Fund for Development, the U.S. Commercial Service and of course the Franchise Delegation.