Bertrand Dumon, Partner at BSA has recently advised French entrepreneurs, the founders and owners of premium, innovative sushi restaurant chain SushiArt in its acquisition by eathos, the Dubai DIFC based regional restaurant operating company. eathos was advised by Gibson Dunn in the buyout.
This deal sees co-founder Cedric Cerf remain on the management team to smoothly manage the transition period, whilst eathos takes over the operational management and plans the expansion in the UAE (to Motor City) and across the GCC, commencing in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
eathos is a young, dynamic and well-funded regional restaurant operator based in the DIFC, backed by a seasoned private equity team and prominent family groups from the Middle East. It has brought together highly experienced and respected professionals of the food and beverage industry across the TMENA (Turkey, Middle East and North Africa) region. It identifies franchising and acquisition opportunities in the fast-casual and casual dining segments, to either help Western concepts export to this region via the franchise model, or acquire promising, established restaurants. All brands and restaurants are then run by eathos’ own management team, which provides comprehensive support to ensure operational success.
SushiArt is the GCC franchisee of globally renowned Sushi Shop, which was founded in France in 1998 and currently has over 100 branches globally. The brand has developed a unique menu, refined and perfected by a team of high profile chefs, which impressed sushi enthusiasts worldwide before eventually opening its first Dubai outlet in 2013 in the DIFC. SushiArt now has four outlets in the UAE serving more than 300,000 meals per year across dine-in and delivery and the business is forecast to more than triple in size in the next four years. It combines fine dining in a modern Japanese ambiance with a quick and efficient service. The key ingredients of its success in the UAE have been a focus on quality of both food and service, careful attention to every aspect of its brand and considerate treatment of its staff to motivate and incentivize them.
Announcing the deal, Nadim Majdalani, CFO and Business Development Director at eathos, said: “SushiArt is one of Dubai’s F&B success stories. It has built a powerful restaurant brand that has established itself in three years as a go-to venue for local Emiratis as well as Arab and Western expats. This is our first acquisition, successfully meeting our investment criteria in terms of profitability, operational excellence and readiness for expansion. We strongly believe in the brand’s remaining rollout potential in the UAE, as well as its upcoming success across the GCC, Egypt and Lebanon. SushiArt fills a significant gap in the market between the lower quality quick service restaurants and the high-end establishments, by committing to serve top quality sushi in a casual dining environment and at an affordable price. We remain actively on the lookout for further partnerships with successful concepts that serve exceptional food, and which can benefit from eathos’ operational know-how and network to unlock their full regional potential.”
Cedric Cerf, co-founder of SushiArt said: “We have successfully brought this premium, innovative concept to the UAE, and after three years of pursuing our Dubai dream, we have found ourselves at a crossroad: to grow SushiArt to its full potential across the region, we required the investment support and the GCC network and experience that eathos could provide. After months of careful consideration, negotiation and due diligence, we agreed that eathos presented the right fit for the SushiArt brand, the business and the team. I look forward to working with eathos during the transition phase.”
Adrien de Schompré, co-founder of Sushi Shop Group said: “We are very excited about the new opportunities that this transaction offers for our franchise business in the Middle East. We have been extremely proud of and thankful for the great job performed by our first Middle Eastern franchisee, establishing SushiArt as a destination of choice for casual sushi, and look forward to a fruitful collaboration with eathos as they accelerate the rollout and take the brand regional.”
The next UAE SushiArt restaurant has been secured in Dubai Motor City, in parallel with the first steps into other markets, starting with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with two sites signed in Riyadh and one in Jeddah, expected to launch later in 2016 and in 2017.