Interview with Hossam Fahmy: Close-Up of Egypt Retail Market – Part II

Interview with Hossam Fahmy: Close-Up of Egypt Retail Market – Part II

With 11 branches on the North Coast this summer, and another ten new launches this year, Mori Sushi Int. CEO Hossam Fahmy uplifts the hospitality scene, taking us on his passion for food journey and giving us an insight on his more family-oriented food and beverage (F&B) chains that hit Egypt by storm, with over a decade ago, and still top the scene today, including Mori Sushi, Tamara, Tamara Elna, Ted’s, Mince, and their new babies NUWA and The Caterer.

Tell us your success story

After graduating college in London back in 1997, I returned to work in the retail business with Linea, which was a premium multi-brand shoe store and grew from one to 30 outlets. In 2002, I debuted my F&B business with Mint, introducing a new unique concept to the scene that revolves around design, art, and fusion food. I transferred this concept to Qatar in 2005, and proved successful. In the same year, with my Qatari partners, I developed a new coffee bar concept called Inch. The Mori Sushi story dates back to 2007; I fell in love with the brand during my business trip to Brazil so I immediately contacted the company to import the franchise to Egypt. With my partner, Tamer El Leithy, the Mori Int. journey began, with six different brands under our umbrella: Mori Sushi, Tamara, Tamara Elna, Ted’s, Mince, and our new babies NUWA and The Caterer. Today, we operate 40 permanent branches in Cairo, Alexandria, El Gouna, and Dubai. Mori Int. is aggressively growing with 11 summer locations on the North Coast, and yet, another ten branches to be announced this year.

Why did you choose this industry?

My passion for delectable food was the driving force for such business venture in the hospitality market. If we recall back in 2002, choices of food outlets in Egypt were very limited and far from any international standards. It was then that I decided to convert my passion into something new, exciting, and different from any other.

How do you see the retail/hospitality sector in Egypt?

The sector is growing and the market competition now makes all retailers vie to deliver their best. Such aggressive rivalry elevates the whole industry to meet the international standards in quality. Also, there are a lot of new shopping malls that can serve end consumers with an international experience, which helps retailers grow their business. I think that this sector will keep booming tremendously in our country as new residential areas and new shopping centers are opening now. The better the economic growth in this country within the coming years, the higher the purchase power of consumers.

What are the challenges facing the industry, especially your business?

The challenges are as follows:

Trained human resources: In order to grow, we face so many difficulties to get the good calibers to train and guide them until they meet international standards, whether in retail or hospitality industries.

Stable currency and economy: For planing ahead, the foreign currency must be stable so retailers better evaluate their expenditures and price their products accordingly.

Clear legislation: Comprehensible laws, in terms of licenses and conditions for work permits and outlet registrations, must be present for all retailers face so many difficulties to reach that.

What are the incentives that will encourage more investments in the retail/hospitality sector?

First, the government should comprehend the vital role this sector plays in supporting tourism, construction, and labor force in Egypt. Therefore, it must ease import customs process for businesses to reduce costs for the benefit of end consumers. The stability and availability of the foreign currency is crucial so that retailers focus entirely on their operations rather than always solving problems regarding customs. Third, more hospitality institutes should open to train the youth to work in this huge industry. Fourth, the provision of an easier and clean process for obtaining business licenses and permits as there are a lot of unnecessary restrictions that add extra load and money. This, too, will limit the growing corruption across many governmental entities. Fifth, consumers can benefit from lower value-added tax (VAT) and there should be a clear system for foreigners to redeem their VAT on their way out from the country.

How do you evaluate Egypt’s tourist destination, especially the North Coast and New Alamein, and how the retail can help boost their livelihood and make them all-year-round destinations?

The new tourist destinations – if they are done right and properly managed – for sure will be a great success to our country and its economy alike. The North Coast is one of the best destinations in the world and needs this big change. New Alamein could be a perfect window to the whole world to showcase such a beautiful city, and only then, it can function all year round.

With regards to Egypt’s urban development plan and new cities venture, would you consider opening up your business there?

Yes, definitely. We always look for new destinations to expand our brands. Any new place that matches our criteria will be for sure an attractive site for us, and in general retailers to invest in. Our biggest expansions during the past few years were in New Cairo and 6th of October City.

What are your future plans?

Our future plan is to keep growing in Egypt and abroad. All brands can easily compete internationally and develop more training skills. This sector relies solely on the intensive human labor and the development of new concepts. We aim to set the bar high and create new trends that all retailers can follow to uplift this industry nationwide.


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