EMERGING FROM GLOBAL CRISIS: HOW THE FIRST GROUP HOSPITALITY’S BUSINESS AND THE F&B INDUSTRY RECOVERED

24

Expanding from 15 to 35 outlets – with an emphasis on home-grown concepts – shows 

The First Group Hospitality have emerged from the global crisis in a stronger position

Dubai, UAE:  While the pandemic was a hugely challenging time for many organizations in the food and beverage industry in Dubai, TFG Hospitality was able to navigate a relatively smooth path through the turmoil and come out the other side with a renewed energy for the future and a slate of exciting new F&B openings. 

Through bold decision-making and expertly thought-out concepts, TFG Hospitality was able to record growth during a pandemic that sent shockwaves through the hospitality world. The group expects to grow from 15 outlets in pre-pandemic Dubai to 35 before the end of 2022.

However, Brendan McCormack, TFG Hospitality’s Vice President of Food and Beverage, admits lockdown inevitably took its toll on the business. 

“April to August 2020 were tough times as the industry in Dubai effectively shut down, but it gave us the opportunity to reset,” he explains. “There’s always opportunity throughout challenges and recession. We reconceptualized a lot of new venues and repositioned our existing portfolio. It was very challenging, of course, but overall, it ended up being quite a useful time for us.”

Despite the pandemic, TFG Hospitality managed to launch the popular Spanish restaurant Lola Taberna Española at Tryp by Wyndham and refurbish Soluna Restaurant and Lounge in the same hotel.  Millennium Place marina also received a revamp, with the addition of a hit Japanese izakaya-style restaurant Ikigai with regional culinary sensation, Chef Reif Othman as consultant.

Swift action from UAE authorities, McCormack adds, helped the F&B industry to bounce back from Covid. “The way the Dubai and UAE government handled the pandemic was exceptional,” he says. “They were very decisive in the beginning, which meant we were able to recover much quicker.”

Reflecting on 2021, McCormack calls Q4 “outstanding”, and says it was “probably one of the best quarters we’ve had since 2014” as Dubai customers eagerly ate out in an attempt to resume familiar social habits. Expo also certainly helped, says McCormack, who says simply, “Dubai was busy.”

Keen to maintain this encouraging momentum, leadership at TFG Hospitality aim to open yet more F&B outlets by the end of the year, with an emphasis on homegrown concepts to satisfy the appetite of a proud Dubai population. 

“In the last five years we’ve seen the community within Dubai really embrace restaurant concepts created in the city,” explains McCormack. “I think we’re producing concepts in Dubai that can match anything internationally, which is really exciting.”

A brand to look out for, he says, is Risen, the artisanal cafe and bakery from TFG Hospitality that made its debut at Millennium Place Marina in January 2022. Now, Risen is set to welcome six more branches before the end of this year.

“There’s a lot of pent-up demand for travel and people want to come to Dubai because they feel safe here,” McCormack concludes. “I’m very optimistic about where we’re going,”

About The First Group   

Headquartered in Dubai, UAE, The First Group (TFG) is a dynamic, integrated global property developer and hospitality organization with a fast-growing portfolio of upscale hotels, residential properties, F&B brands and real estate asset management services. Since launch, TFG has carved a highly successful niche offering unrivalled property investment opportunities to clients from more than 70 countries worldwide. TFG Real Estate investors also gain access to exclusive loyalty privileges, ranging from complimentary flights, holidays and accommodation to discounts on restaurants, lifestyle experiences and other exciting benefits.