May 15, 2016
Fajr Capital, a leading private equity investor in high-growth markets across the Middle East and Asia, today announced the completion of its acquisition of Cravia Group (“Cravia” or “the Company”), one of the fastest-growing food and beverage platforms in the Middle East.
Founded in 2001, Cravia is the parent company that operates some of the MENA region’s most successful food and beverage franchises, including: Zaatar w Zeit, Cinnabon, Seattle’s Best Coffee and Carvel ice cream. Cravia also recently started operations for the U.S.’s number one better burger brand, Five Guys (Burger and Fries), in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar. The newly-opened Five Guys outlet in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is the burger chain’s largest branch worldwide and broke the record for the highest performing store by sales in the global network.
Fajr Capital’s investment in Cravia will support the Company to strengthen its leadership position in the regional food and beverage sector and accelerate its immediate growth plans. Cravia’s management team will leverage Fajr Capital’s global network to increase the Company’s presence in existing markets and penetrate new markets such as Bahrain and Qatar.
Walid Hajj, Founder of Cravia, will remain actively involved in the business as Executive Chairman. The Company’s experienced management team will also remain in place and will continue to be led by Louay Ghandour, Chief Executive Officer.
Commenting on the investment, Iqbal Khan, CEO of Fajr Capital, said: “Cravia is one of the most successful and exciting F&B platforms in the Middle East. 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. We are confident that Walid and Louay, in partnership with the world-class management team already in place, will drive the company’s continued growth, while maintaining Cravia’s guiding principles of loyalty, integrity, dynamism and excellence.”
Walid Hajj, Executive Chairman of Cravia, added: “I am very proud of the great progress Cravia has made over the last fifteen years and am excited about the opportunities that lie ahead. Fajr Capital’s proven track-record and global network will be extremely valuable as Cravia enters a new stage of expansion and growth. We are grateful to Fajr Capital for their confidence in Cravia, and their belief in our executive management team and our hard-working and dedicated employees.”
Dubai-based deNovo Corporate Advisors acted as sell-side advisors on the deal, with Gibson Dunn & Crutcher providing legal representation to the shareholders of Cravia. Arqaam Capital, ANC Associates, Deloitte, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, and Strategy& acted on behalf of Fajr Capital.
Cravia Group was established in 2001 by Walid Hajj. From the humble beginning of the Cinnabon outlet in Abu Dhabi mall, the company has grown to become one of the fastest growing F&B companies in the region with presence that now extends to Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, as well as across the UAE.
In a little over a decade, the company has expanded its presence across the MENA region, operating over 85 restaurants with more than 1,500 employees. Its millions of customers enjoy world-famous franchises such as Cinnabon, Seattle’s Best Coffee, Carvel and Zaatar w Zeit. The company has also recently added Five Guys – the number one “Better-Burger” brand in America – to its ever-expanding portfolio, by securing the U.S. chain’s franchises for Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar.
Cravia has attained a number of global awards in recognition of the company’s exceptional franchise operational management standards. In addition, Cravia forms part of a case-study program offered to students at the prestigious Harvard University. Working alongside a team of carefully selected individuals, Cravia continues to infuse passion into every aspect of the business, making it one of the foremost F&B operators in the Middle East.