PE fund acquires Middle East operator of Cinnabon and Seattle’s Best

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

PE fund acquires Middle East operator of Cinnabon and Seattle’s Best

Related tags: Middle east, Saudi arabia

Fajr Capital, a private equity investor in high-growth markets across the Middle East and Asia, has completed its acquisition of Cravia Group, one of the fastest-growing food and beverage platforms in the Middle East.

The Dubai-based fund did not disclose the size of the stake or the price paid for the purchase. However, according to a Reuters report in December, Fajr had been seeking a majority stake in the company.

Founded in 2001, Cravia operates some of the region’s region's most visible food and beverage franchises, including Lebanese restaurant Zaatar w Zeit and American icons Cinnabon, Seattle's Best Coffee and Carvel ice cream. It also recently started operations for Five Guys American gourmet burger chain in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar. 

The newly-opened outlet in Riyadh is the world’s biggest Five Guys’ branch and broke the record for store sales in the global network. 

Cravia said in a statement that Fajr Capital’s investment will support it to strengthen its position in the regional food and beverage sector and accelerate immediate growth plans. 

The food group’s management team will now leverage the investor’s global network to increase its presence in existing markets and penetrate new ones in the Middle East, including Bahrain and Qatar. 

Walid Hajj, Cravia’s founder, will remain actively involved in the business as executive chairman, while its management team will also remain in place with Louay Ghandour, chief executive, continuing the lead the company.

"I am very proud of the great progress Cravia has made over the last 15 years and am excited about the opportunities that lie ahead​,” said Hajj. 

Fajr Capital's proven track-record and global network will be extremely valuable as Cravia enters a new stage of expansion and growth​."

In a little over a decade, the company has grown to operate over 85 restaurants in the Middle East and employ more than 1,500 staff.

Fajr Capital’s shareholders include sovereign investors from Abu Dhabi, Brunei and Malaysia, and private investors such as Mohammed Alsubeaei & Sons Investment Company. 

To date, it has invested in areas such as financial services, infrastructure, education, manufacturing and renewable energy, with its companies employing over 15,000 people in its target markets.

Cravia is one of the most successful and exciting F&B platforms in the Middle East​,” said Iqbal Khan, chief executive of Fajr Capital. “We are delighted to announce our investment in Cravia at such an important stage in the company's growth trajectory, and look forward to expanding the business in our constituent markets.

Related topics: Business, Middle East, Industry growth

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