Lebanon Businessnews News

Semsom debuts
in New York
Eatery expands in the MENA
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The journey of Semsom’s 200 outlets by 2020 in the US has begun. After raising capital with FFA Private Bank in May 2014, Semsom will open its first location in the first quarter of 2015. It will follow with a second location, in the second quarter and two more, by the end of the year. “All our locations for 2015 will be in Manhattan, New York, said Christine Sfeir, CEO of Treats, owner of the concept.

Sfeir and Carine Assouad, Managing Director of Semsom US, spent the last few months in New York to roll out the brand adaptation and set up the infrastructure and the supply chain. According to Sfeir, all the outlets that will soon operate are company-owned. Future ones might be franchised.

The mission of Semsom is to spread Lebanese cuisine all over the world; the 2020 vision was shared with all current and future franchisees during the first international meeting held in Kuwait, Sfeir said

The US restaurant market lacks a dominant Lebanese cuisine player. As the trend towards healthy ethnic food increases, Semsom is looking to seize the opportunity to become the first Lebanese restaurant chain in the US

Semsom has also opened a head office on Madison Avenue with the US core team in place. The budget dedicated to the first expansion phase was $4.5 million, mainly supplied through FFA funding. “This will cover the development of 2015. We will have a second capital raise in 2016 to open more stores,” Sfeir said.

Semsom MENA opened in January 2014 in Kuwait. The franchisor is Sabeco. Semsom Oman will open its first outlet in October and the second before the end of 2014. Both outlets will be located in Muscat, through franchisee, Anzyma. The Saudi Arabia operations, now in their fourth year with two outlets in Jeddah, will include a new Riyadh outlet, in 2015. The KSA franchisee is Al Mathaq.

Treats will establish an office in Dubai to support and develop MENA region operations. “We are currently negotiating UAE, Egypt and Qatar, said Sfeir.
Reported by Rana Freifer
Date Posted: Sep 17, 2014
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