German Doner Kebab to Franchise in Saudi Arabia and North America

Glasgow-based fast food chain German Doner Kebab has signed up franchise partners to open 30 outlets in Saudi Arabia and Canada and is in talks over a similar deal in the US.

Ajlan Bin Ajlan Group becomes master franchisee in Saudi Arabia, with an agreement to open 100 stores in 10 years for the brand which markets doner kebabs as a gourmet snack.

Franchise partners have been signed in Canada’s Ontario and British Columbia provinces, while negotiations are under way to open outlets in New York's Manhattan, New Jersey and Houston, Texas.

GDK, owned by Hero Brands, already has franchised stores in the UK, Sweden, Dubai, Abu-Dhabi, Oman and Bahrain. Its new partners have worked with brands including KFC, Starbucks and McDonalds.

Group franchise director global Jon Cullen said: “The interest and developments in recent months reflects our position as one of the world’s most exciting fast-casual brands.

“We have been building a number of new partnerships with experienced franchise investors during this time and plans are well on their way to open up a new region in the Middle East.

“Our brand has truly disrupted the fast-casual space and has remained agile and responsive during what has been challenging trading conditions for the wider industry."

Former United Wholesale cash and carry director Athif Sarwar bought the GDK brand through Hero Brands after discovering it on holiday in Dubai. The company has recruited executives from Taco Bell and TGI Fridays as it targets fast international growth.

GDK says it has received more than 300 inquiries from potential franchisees in recent months. Having continued to operate in partnership with Deliveroo during lockdown, it now employs more than 1000 people in the UK where it has opened 35 new restaurants in three years. It plans to open 350 franchise units over the next seven years. The firm says it has delivered 30,000 free meals to frontline NHS workers and vulnerable people.

Cullen added: “Our unique fast-casual dining experience and our experienced senior team brings a strong proposition and opportunity to accomplished franchisers, which is being reflected in the strategic partnerships we are developing across the globe.

“Our current partners are the epitome of what we look for and we continue to work closely with them to strengthen our partnerships and build the most exciting fast-casual brand of the future.”