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World experts ‘Court’ Ibn Battuta Mall with “Food Theatre”

United Arab Emirates: Wednesday, August 17 - 2005 @ 16:10

The world’s largest themed mall has delivered a totally new dining destination in Dubai after employing the services of world renowned retail food experts Future Food. Retailers have been encouraged to present their food in a fresh and visually appealing way using open kitchens and ‘on display’ cooking where customers can choose from an array of fresh ingredients before their dish is prepared in front of them.

In order to deliver a food court that was unique to anything already on offer in the region, Nakheel employed the services of international industry experts Future Food whose extensive experience includes the development of retail food solutions for cafes, restaurants, fresh food precincts, shopping centres, and airports around the world. By offering a complete retail food solution, Future Food has completed hundreds of projects throughout Australia, New Zealand, South East Asia and the Middle East.

Through local market research and gaining a real understanding of the quick service food market in Dubai, a unique retail mix opportunity was identified by Future Food in conjunction with collaborating retail architects DesignInc; their research revealed that the majority of food courts within shopping centres or commercial precincts in Dubai and the surrounding region were of a similar food mix and design. Future Food identified a lack of fresh food displayed at counters, service styles that were based on fast food formats, and little inclusion of local café and restaurant operators – a trend that is now well established throughout Australasia, home to some of the world’s best food courts.

Francis Loughlan, from Future Food, said: “We found that individual tenancy designs and presentations were underdeveloped in Dubai when compared to popular international shopping centres; menus were also limited with a dominance of international and fast food brands with little emphasis on ‘healthy and lighter’ food choices.

“At the core of the operating philosophy for Ibn Battuta Mall was the need to move away from the original fast food counter formats and to focus on the inclusion of fresh food on display. The consumer, no longer reliant on menu boards, is taken on a journey of food discovery; customers can actually view the food as it is cooked before they make a decision on which outlet to visit.”

The functional design combines a variety of contemporary physical elements, seating options for more than 1,000 people, clever use of natural light, and satellite cafés which provide customers with the opportunity to stroll around the many outlets, sampling the sights and aromas of the busy kitchens. Ibn Battuta Mall can also boast a diverse range of 16 outlets to suit all tastes including a variety of Asian and Middle Eastern foods, popular Italian, a fresh and contemporary café, healthy salads and sandwiches, an ice-cream kiosk, new brands, as well as world renowned and proven quick service outlets such as McDonald’s and KFC.

Christina Sjogren, Managing Director of Zest, said: “The Food Court at Ibn Battuta Shopping Mall has been a huge success. It is attracting a lot of interest from a wonderfully international crowd with families, professionals as well as single people of all ages visiting the court. Customer figures are also growing week by week and our revenues are climbing week by week, which is exciting considering we are currently going through the summer months where Dubai normally tends to be quieter.

“The Food Court offers a wonderful array of different food and differs from other shopping malls in that the layout, design and food offered is much more contemporary and interesting. A huge credit to Future Food and DesignInc.”

Francis added: “Key to the success is the overall retail mix and the discipline of menu specialisation; there is little duplication throughout the 16 food outlets and this bodes well for both the customer and retailer alike.”

Ibn Battuta Mall has also made a conscious move away from traditional neon signage and a contrived fast food look normally associated with food courts to a natural, high quality design more commonly associated with cafés; each outlet has its own distinct character, unique image and identity, while still retaining the fundamentals of speed and convenience associated with fast food outlets.

Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Executive Chairman, Nakheel, said: “We wanted something that was not conventional or predictable and sought an innovative solution to deliver the best food court in the Middle East. Ibn Battuta Mall is a destination for everybody, so the task was to create a food court which had the volume and range to serve as many market groups as possible; I believe this has been achieved and Ibn Battuta Mall has a totally unique food court of which we can be truly proud.”

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Wednesday, August 17- 2005 @ 16:10 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.

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