The unbearable attraction of the restaurant sector
The Doğuş Group, which accommodates more than 120 companies, has been a strategic partner of the World Economic Forum since 2008. Consequently, it participates at Davos with its top level administration.
We met with executives of the Doğuş Group at a dinner one day before the rush of the World Economic Forum started.
Talk was roaming around the recent investment of the Doğuş Group boss Ferit Şahenk on the restaurant sector.
Şahenk bought 50 percent of a meat restaurant named Nusr-Et, operating in Istanbul’s Etiler district, in the last days of 2011 for $6.8 million. This move of Şahenk’s was widely covered in the media. He was also reported to have been interested in Hayal Kahvesi, an important venue in Istanbul’s night life, Lacivert Restaurant at the shore of the Bosphorus and Kiva, master of Anatolian tastes right next to Galata Tower.
Why does this group operating in several sectors such as finance and banking, automotive, construction, tourism, media, real estate, energy and maritime show interest in the restaurant sector?
The conversation brought up this simple calculation.
The turnover of the Nusr-Et restaurant was higher than the turnover of the automobile sales point of Doğuş Group’s at the same district, at Etiler.
As our ancestors say, “Great minds think alike.”
The Doğuş Group, in order to further expand in the restaurant and catering sector, has transformed its Doğuş Air Transport Company to Doğuş Yeme-İçme Hizmetleri with a capital of 28.5 million Turkish Liras.
The restaurant sector is developing in a remarkable way, especially in Istanbul.
The ever prospering middle class and their more sophisticated lifestyles on one hand and the ever increasing number of foreign tourists visiting Istanbul on the other make the restaurant sector attractive for investors.
For example, Kitchenette on Bağdat Street, where we had a very enjoyable family dinner with elderly members joining us last Sunday, is one of 35 restaurants of the Doors Group.
The Doors Group, which also owns the brands Gina, Zuma, Angelique, Aija, Mama, Vogue, Poupon, Da Mario, Carlotta and Ca’d’Oro, has gone international after partnering with a foreign fund. The group bought the restaurant of Tom Aikens, considered to be one of the best chefs in the world, in the United Kingdom last March. They also have new investments in Russia and Azerbaijan.
The Doors Group targets a 38 percent growth in 2012 and will grow with possible different international partnerships in the international arena, the venture that started 20 years ago in Istanbul.
Another example from the restaurant business is Big Chefs.
Big Chefs was set up in Ankara in 2007 by a young female entrepreneur Gamze Cizreli. After it moved to Istanbul it partnered with Saruhan Tan, a member of the Executive Board of Yeni Karamürsel chain stores. As a result, Big Chefs has reached 12 businesses, half of them as “franchise,” in a short time like four years. Some of them are in Gaziantep, Mersin and Antalya.
It should not be surprising that such a fast developing sector has landed in the field of interest of a leading group in Turkey such as Doğuş.