McDonald’s is more popular than ever across the Emirates as fast-food fanatics increasingly buy more burgers.
The upsurge comes despite the US restaurant chain reporting weak growth in other parts of the world.
The McDonald’s Corporation reported lower than expected global profits on Monday for the second quarter of the year and warned growth at established restaurants would slow this month.
But the brand’s local franchise, Emirates Fast Food, said that slowdown was not applicable to the UAE, where sales have been strong so far this year.
“Our results are better than expected,” said Rafic Fakih, the managing director for Emirates Fast Food, “The slowdown is not global, it does not apply [here].”
Mr Fakih added sales were up on last year for stores that had been open more than a year and the chain had continued to open new stores throughout the nation.
Emirates Fast Food now operates nearly 100 McDonald’s restaurants in the Emirates and has this year opened outlets in Ras Al Khaimah, Al Ain, Fujairah and Sharjah.
“We have opened already six new restaurants,” said Mr Fakih. “We are still opening this year, it’s not finished.”
Sales of fast food in the UAE are expected to grow 6 per cent to Dh8 billion (US$2.17bn) this year as the sector grows rapidly with other major chains also opening new outlets, according to the research and information company Euromonitor International.
“McDonald’s is definitely contributing to the growth of the fast-food market, even though chicken outperforms beef in the UAE,” said Karima Berkani, a senior research analyst at Euromonitor.
“[McDonald’s] have been successful in not only leveraging their worldwide brand recognition but also by catering to local tastes, launching limited-edition meals and including a number of chicken and vegetarian options in their menu.
“Speaking broadly, McDonald’s is second to KFC in terms of brand share of the total fast food market,” added Ms Berkani.
“Within the burger fast-food market, McDonald’s continues to see growth as the market leader.”
Emirates Fast Food claims McDonald’s has a market share of about 13 per cent in what it deems the “informal eating out” segment.
Mr Fakih said the chain had benefited again this year from the large numbers of tourists visiting the Emirates but he could not say how much this trend had affected profits.
“I don’t know the reason for so many tourists but Dubai for a long time has seen a constant growth in tourist income for the last 10 years,” he said.
“It’s very hard to tell because we have growth in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.”
Globally, net income at McDonald’s fell 4.5 per cent to $1.35bn for the second quarter from $1.41bn a year earlier, partly because of a stronger US dollar.
Total revenue increased slightly to $6.92bn from $6.91bn a year earlier as overall sales at same-store restaurants rose 3.7 per cent in the second quarter.
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