JJ Chicken – Where healthy meets tasty

Since its inception in 2010, JJ Chicken aims to be the only fast-casual restaurant serving authentic charcoal-grilled, 100% hormone-free, grain-fed, freshly- prepared chicken meals, while offering value for money. They currently operate 11 branches and 1 food truck in the UAE.

JJ Chicken is one of Almed Retail’s multiple brands, a prestigious & dynamic investor & operator in the Middle East. Find out more about the brand from this interview with Saer Imad, Group General Manager for the brand JJ Chicken of Almed Retail Holding.

1. How did you enter the franchise business?

At Almed Retail, we have an experienced team that knows how to develop & grow brands while preparing them to expand on an international level. Furthermore, we received huge demand from a lot of customers visiting Dubai, trying “JJChicken” and inquiring if we exist abroad and what are the possibilities to have the brand expanding to their countries.
Based on all that, we believe it is the right time to take this brand to the next level and enter the franchise business by delivering the same product and quality all over the world.

2. Where and how did the idea of your concept come from?

Back in 2010, there was a need in the UAE for a fresh chicken joint, that offered healthy but tasty chicken. And what would deliver better than a juicy tender charcoal-grilled chicken, made-to-order, hormone-free, grain-fed & freshly prepared? That’s how JJ Chicken was born, to deliver on a promise that many were craving for.

3. What inspired the brand name?

The name is a play on words. JJ is short for the Arabic word “Djeje” which means Chicken

4. What is the story behind the brand’s logo?

The logo is simple yet says a lot. It’s a square with a beak and a crest, representing the shape of the chicken, which is all what JJ is about.

5. What makes your brand different from your competitors?

– Charcoal-grilled chicken: all dishes are cooked over charcoal, which gives the chicken an irresistible taste of grilling, tenderness & juiciness
– Superior & healthy chicken: JJ’s chicken is hormone-free, grain-fed & halal. All sauces are freshly homemade with zero preservatives
– Fusion Menu: with chicken being the core ingredient, the menu offers a variety of dishes inspired from different countries
– Simplicity: JJ Chicken has a simple and easy way to control operation. Working with one main ingredient (chicken) makes it easy.
– JJ Chicken is one of Almed Retail’s multiple brands, a prestigious & dynamic investor & operator in the Middle East

6. What are the essential qualities that you look for in a franchisee?

– The potential franchisee must have access to prime locations in their respective region
– Ability to replicate and maintain the same identity, experience and people’s development culture
– Having the necessary capital for setting up the franchise outlet and sustain a franchise development plan
– Should have previous business experience of a minimum period of 3 years, preferably in the F&B industry (particularly for individual franchises)
– Should have a solid foundation to understand all the legalities and fundamental skills needed to operate a franchise business
– Ability to source, store and distribute required franchise products

7. How long does it take, on average, for your franchisee to realize their investment?

Franchising is a long-term partnership and this is how we look at it; however the financial component is very important in any business partnership and should be feasible for both the partners franchisor and the franchisee. Hence, nowadays a franchisee on average needs 4-5 years to return all the investment injected. In different terms, an ROI is between 20-25% on yearly basis.

8. What was the major challenge you faced in your career and how did you overcome it?

The major challenge we faced was during the covid-19 pandemic as it was the first time we face such a situation and how to operate under strict restrictions while providing the best hygiene and sanitized service. Adding to the complexity is running the operation with less staff and how to protect your employees and ensure they are having the best medical assistance if they are infected. Having all this on one side and how to maintain the finances of the company within acceptable survival margins. Facing this situation we created an emergency team where we divided the tasks accordingly and had daily meetings together and with all the outlets. Furthermore, we tried to turn this situation into an opportunity by focusing more on deliveries and showing the customers how safe is to order from us supported by a huge marketing campaign.

8.1 What is your best achievement?

I always believed that success and great achievements are an effort done by the whole team where each one contributes to a piece of this puzzle; therefore, my strength always lies in having the right team in place and leading them in the best way possible. We were able to position our brand amongst the top brands with great offerings and an increasing number of loyal customers.

9. How does your business day start?

I start my day with a cup of green tea. Then we make sure that operations are running smoothly across all outlets and brands. Later, I check my emails and then have meetings with all the department heads.

10. What was your best moment throughout your franchise career?

The best moment was when we had a complete franchise program ready to invade the world and our trademark and logo are registered worldwide.

11. Where do you see your brand in the next 5 years?

“JJ Chicken” has great potential and has a unique offering. Our plans for the next 5 years are so aggressive, especially after the covid-19 recovery. We are looking to have a presence in all GCC countries, Egypt, India, UK, France, USA, Africa, and South East Asia.

12. Any tips you want to impart to our readers who want to be in the franchise industry?

Franchising is a long journey where franchisor and franchisee should work in full harmony. The financial structure should be feasible i.e. low CAPEX, decent ROI, healthy EBITDA margin, different stream of revenues, and flexible adaptable model. Most importantly, full support to the franchisee to ensure success as he/she will be your representative that you want to be perfect.

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