Innovative Foods, Inc. announced the opening of the 80th Shawarmer restaurant in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with its first-ever airport installation at Riyadh King Khalid International Airport (KKIA) Terminal 5.
The KKIA location marks the sixth new Shawarmer restaurant Innovative Foods has opened this year. That includes two new Shawarmer restaurants in Mecca as well as further expansion into Saudi’s Eastern Province. In addition, Innovative Foods was recently awarded rights to develop a new Shawarmer branch in King Abdul-Aziz International Airport in Jeddah, which is scheduled to open at the end of summer 2018.
Innovative Foods focuses on developing new restaurant concepts. The company’s signature brand, Shawarmer, is a rapidly growing fast-casual restaurant chain known for modernizing one of the most beloved Arabic street foods across generations, the shawarma. Shawarmer has expanded from one location in Riyadh to 80 restaurants in 19 cities across the Kingdom. Overall Innovative Foods with Shawarmer and its other brands now employs more than 1,000 people, with more than 32% representing Saudi nationals.
“With Shawarmer, we believe we have captured a model that truly resonates with our Saudi customers. From day one, our focus has been on the shawarma as the hero of our menu. But it’s always been with a modern interpretation, experimenting with and introducing new variations in our hand-made sauces, marinades, fresh ingredients and signature sandwich styles that make Shawarmer as truly unique as it is authentic,” said Abdulmohsin Al-Rabiah, co-founder and CEO of Innovative Foods.
“That’s why we expect the new Riyadh King Khalid Airport restaurant to be a big success for us. We wanted to be in the domestic terminal where we believe the great growth we are seeing in Saudi nationals traveling within the Kingdom will enable us to broaden our exposure and introduce Shawarmer to a much larger customer base,” Al-Rabiah said.
Innovative Foods was founded by Saudi entrepreneurs, Al-Rabiah and long-time friend Ahmad Al Rasheed with two additional partners, opening their first restaurants in Riyadh in 1992 while still attending King Saud University. The 2in1 restaurant concept focused on international cuisine for young Saudis. The group returned to their Arab roots with the launch of the Shawarmer concept in 1999, which they see as having great potential for expansion not only in Saudi Arabia’s growing fast-casual restaurant market but also in key regional and international markets.
“We are very optimistic about the continued economic growth opportunity of Saudi Arabia under our current leadership and Vision 2030. We are seeing that translate into a strong Saudi quick-serve restaurant industry,” said Innovative Foods co-founder Al Rasheed.
Industry analysts project the Saudi quick-serve restaurant market to nearly double in size by 2023, growing to greater than $9 billion. With a young population with 70% of the market under 30 years of age, Innovative Foods sees the Shawarmer brand as aligning exceptionally well with the trends of the Saudi market.
“This is a young customer group who generally tend to be true to their Arabic roots while also exploring and embracing new food and entertainment concepts, which we believe positions us well for domestic growth as our customers embrace the transformation taking place across the Kingdom,” Al-Rabiah said. “We also see great potential beyond the Saudi market. The shawarma is a beloved traditional food by people across the GCC and MENA. We believe the Shawarmer concept would not only be embraced by young Arabs across the region but would play very well in a wide range of major metropolitan cities.”