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Marka Signs Dhs 31m Franchise Deal For Ice Cream Brand Morelli’s Gelato

Dubai-based retail and hospitality firm Marka announced that it has acquired the Middle Esat franchise operations of luxury ice cream brand Morelli’s Gelato.

The deal was worth Dhs 31m, the company said in a statement.

The acquisition, which includes five outlets, will be integrated into Marka’s dedicated food and beverage division Marka Hospitality. Post the deal, Marka said that it will expand the brand by opening 17 additional Morelli’s Gelato outlets in the MENA region by 2020.

“Morelli’s Gelato is an important addition to Marka’s hospitality portfolio,” said Marka’s CEO Nick Peel.

“It is a renowned and profitable brand with a solid growth trajectory and an experienced and entrepreneurial management team. Morelli’s has an enviable operational and financial reputation and is a perfect fit with Marka’s next phase of growth and expansion.”

Morelli’s started as an ice cream parlour in England and later was established in locations such as Cafe de Paris in Monte-Carlo, Harrods Candy Store and more recently Covent Garden in London.

Currently franchised in the Middle East through Gourmet Gulf Food, Morelli’s outlets are located at Dubai Mall, The Beach opposite JBR, Bahrain City Centre, The Avenues mall in Kuwait and Mall of Dhahran in Saudi Arabia. A sixth store is being planned at Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates.

Apart from the UAE, Marka added that it is also planning to expand Morelli’s to other new markets such as Qatar, Oman, Lebanon, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

The expansion is in line with the company’s strategy of placing a selective focus on markets that combine luxury with economic growth, Marka said.

Marka, which has acquired a number of top brands such as UK-based e-commerce site Icons and Reem Al Bawadi chain of restaurants, has said that it finds the region’s food and beverage sector the most attractive to invest in.

The Dubai-listed firm has invested up to Dhs 600m this year in acquisitions and is planning to invest Dhs 250m by the end of this year, officials said.

At the time of its listing in April last year, Marka said that it aims to open more than 100 fashion stores, restaurants and cafes in the GCC over the next five years.

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