Gourmet Gulf has named AJ Kumaran Chief Operating Officer of its burgeoning food and beverage division, the company announced Tuesday. Gourmet Gulf holds the exclusive development rights for a variety of Middle Eastern, Egyptian, and Indian markets for California Pizza Kitchen, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Morelli’s Gelato, YO! Sushi, Trader Vic’s, Hard Rock Cafe, Shiro, Pinkberry and, most recently, Hummingbird Bakery. Gourmet Gulf was founded just seven years ago.
Kumaran’s duties include strategically expanding the presence of Gourmet Gulf’s growing portfolio of new and unique casual dining concepts and cuisine franchise operations throughout its territory. The Gulf Region has the largest under 30 age group per capita in the world.
An industry veteran with more than ten years of C-suite experience developing operational and growth strategies for large multi-unit concepts, Kumaran will lead all expansion, customer servicing and customer satisfaction, marketing, operational and quality control activities, plus direct P&L activities for the brands.
Kumaran will report directly to CEO and founder Sami Daud.
“We are in a key phase of growth and development,” said Daud. “We believe AJ’s demonstrated experience entering new markets, plus his ability to implement effective cost controls will help us expand our portfolio in strategic and profitable ways for us, as well as our franchisor partners.”
Besides his nearly 15 years of executive level experience leading nationwide brands in the United States, Kumaran’s educational pedigree includes a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Cesar Ritz Colleges Switzerland, and an Executive MBA from Cornell University.
“Gourmet Gulf’s portfolio of brands are among the world’s most well respected, and with our plans to become one of the largest, fully integrated multi-franchise companies in the region, we are also one of the area’s most highly sought after franchisees,” Kumaran said. “I am excited to be joining a company that is poised to grow rapidly.”
Gourmet Gulf currently operates 52 restaurants in the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and India. Its portfolio of brands includes California Pizza Kitchen, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Morelli’s Gelato, YO! Sushi, Trader Vic’s, Hard Rock Cafe, Shiro, Pinkberry and, most recently, Hummingbird Bakery. Gourmet Gulf employs more than 1,000 people with the goal of quadrupling its restaurant and employee base in the next two years.
Gourmet Gulf is owned by Daud Investments. Since 1964, Daud Investments has been one of the Middle East’s most successful conglomerates. It manages a dynamic portfolio of world-class restaurant and luxury retail investments from its headquarters in Oman and Dubai.
To learn more, visit the company’s website at www.gourmetgulf.com.