- AWJ was founded in 2014 and operates iconic brands such as Operation Falafel, Catch 22 and Awani amongst others
- The leading F&B group spans the UAE and KSA, with franchises in New York and London
- Kitopi operates over 100 brands across over 200 locations across the GCC region
- Formerly a cloud kitchen, Kitopi today operates in the delivery and dine-in space
- In 2021, Kitopi became the first UAE-headquartered company to get funded by the Softbank Vision Fund 2, marking its milestone as a unicorn
Dubai, UAE- Kitopi, the world’s leading tech-powered, multi-brand restaurant, announced today that it has acquired leading F&B group – AWJ, in one of the largest F&B transactions of the GCC region.
A highly successful Dubai-founded F&B group, AWJ is the holding company behind hugely popular delivery and dine-in brands such as Operation Falafel, Catch 22, Awani, Sushi Do and more. AWJ’s concepts were created and developed by Co-Founding Director Manhal Naser, who acted as the group’s CEO since incorporation, and Co-Founding Director Tamer Bazzari, who chaired the corporate vehicle of the fund and was the Investment Manager.
The group opened its first outlet in Dubai in 2014, and has since expanded its portfolio to more than 10 brands (delivery and dine-in), and 32+ outlets across the UAE and KSA. Today, Operation Falafel serves over 2 million customers globally per year.
AWJ also has franchises in New York and London, and is headquartered in Dubai, UAE with over 1300+ employees.
The acquisition announcement comes as part of Kitopi’s ongoing strategy to invest in and grow much-loved regional brands and take them global, as it continues to dominate the F&B space. Primarily known as a cloud kitchen, today Kitopi defines itself as a tech-powered, multi-brand restaurant with over 100 brands, operating in 200+ locations across 5 markets.
The deal, which occurred for an undisclosed amount, will see the AWJ group of brands eye expansion in new markets where Kitopi has a solidified presence and a vast network of locations, unlocking new opportunities and access to more customers.
AWJ will also benefit from Kitopi’s pioneering tech SKOS (Smart Kitchen Operating System), one of the founding factors for the company’s early success.
On the acquisition, Manhal Naser, former Group CEO and Cofounding Director said, “It has been an honour to establish, lead and work so closely with the AWJ team whom I consider as family. We have built on our core fundamentals, raising the bar and setting the business up for a sustainable future – thanks to our 1300+ team champions, our supporting shareholders, the unique brands we have created, and the millions of consumers we serve. It is now time for a new chapter and having worked closely with Kitopi and Mohamed Ballout, the co-founder and CEO, I believe they are best positioned to take AWJ to the next level.”
Mohamad Ballout, CEO and Co-founder of Kitopi commented, “With a purpose to satisfy the
world’s appetite to create joy, we always strive to bring the best to our customers. To this end,
we are incredibly proud to have acquired AWJ and its portfolio of brands. The co-founders and
leaders of AWJ have done a remarkable job in building its iconic brands and growing them
across borders – and it is going to be a privilege to continue to innovate, elevate and expand its success.”
While AWJ will welcome a new CEO, AWJ will retain their original team that led to its success and operate as a separate vertical to Kitopi’s on-demand business.
Founded in Dubai, UAE, in January 2018, Kitopi has 5000+ employees, and has offices in KSA, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain. It also operates its engineering hub in Krakow, Poland, its global customer experience center in Dubai, UAE, and its Robotics Hub in Odense, Denmark.