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Dubai Restaurant Group to unite “fragmented” F&B sector, says Kunal Lahori

The newly-formed Dubai Restaurant Group plans to give a “unified voice” to the city’s “fragmented F&B sector”, according to board member Kunal Lahori.

Lahori, who is the managing partner of Palmon Group and founder of Pret To Go, was speaking at this year’s Global Restaurant Investment Forum at the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference, alongside fellow board member Naim Maadad, founder and chief executive of Gates Hospitality.

He said: “We want to get the community together and have a unified voice, be a liasion beteweeen government and the fragmented F&B sector. It’s not like the retail sector which has a handful of operators operating thousands of units. F&B is more fragmented, we have about 15,000 restaurants.”

The two were giving an introduction to the group formed by Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry with the remit of giving the industry a voice in government.

Among the changes that Lahori hopes to implement through the DRG is creating a marketplace concept where members of the group can have pricing advantages with suppliers, including alcohol distributors.

Lahori also confirmed that the group was in touch with the Precautionary Measures Committee which enforces social distancing, saying their discussions were “very positive”.

He said: “They understand the business, they want the economy to succeed. They have been put in place to make things happen so a unified voice like ours can really give them subject matter experience and let them know what works and what doesn’t before they enforce those things. It’s a really beneficial body that will work to enhance the industry.”

There are also plans to encourage members of the group to hold charity drives in the wake of disasters such as the recent Beirut port explosions, and to donate food where possible.

Lahori revealed that the DRG wants to create a job marketplace for chefs, waiters, and other industry professionals to find vacancies, as well as introducing a training program for them.

And following in the footsteps of the Michelin Guide, Lahori said a new system of rating high end restaurants with stars could be introduced.