Expand brands in the Middle East, franchises told

Filipino franchises are encouraged to expand their brands in the Middle East countries which offers a lot of business opportunities, especially in terms of the Filipino market.

“You have a base of around three million Filipinos there but if you can still bring your product to the mainstream, that’s a lot more,” said Eric Elnar, Trade Service Officer of the Foreign Trade Service Corps at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Elnar underscored the need for them to find the ideal location for franchise based on target market and comply with local zoning regulations.

“Recruit and retain quality franchisees to capitalize on the tremendous opportunities for growth and expansion in the Middle East,” he said, citing particularly the United Arab Emirates, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.

Elnar noted it is imperative for franchises to adjust their product/menu for cultural preferences, tastes, guidelines including religious observance, and customer expectations.

He said they should also understand legalities, noting “franchisors should take into account region specific issues i.e. licensing restrictions in the Gulf region may constrain the franchisee’s compliance to the schedule of expansion throughout the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council).”

Citing data, Elnar said total population in the GCC region was 54.7 million in 2017.

Its growth rate of 5.8 percent per year between 2015 and 2030 is one of the highest regional growth rates in the world, he noted.

“Qatar is really a small market although it is the third largest in terms of the Filipino market, but you just have to treat it separately in your planning. In the UAE and also in Qatar, the big portion of the population is actually South Asian,” he added. “So if your product can be appreciated by South Asian for example, then you do quite well in that market.”

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