Kout Food Group – A Passion for Food & People
At KOUT FOOD GROUP, people are at the heart of the business – and the reason for the company’s steady growth over the four decades since its establishment.
Kout Food Group, the Kuwaiti-based food delivery franchisee, is one of the companies that started as a single-person business, later to become a recognised leading player in its sector. The business was founded by a Pioneer – Mrs. Fadwa Al Homaizi, the current owner, opening her first Pastry Shop in 1980 to cater for needs of specific clients in Kuwait at that time.
From then on, the business grew as she opened the first local franchise system in the country in 1981 – the much-loved Hungry Bunny, followed by a Pizza Hut franchise, continuously developing the business to where it stands now – a group with a $25 million turnover, 200 locations throughout the country and multiple verticals.
Today, Kout Food Group is dedicated to being a major player in its field, actively engaged in the operation of international and locally inspired restaurants in Kuwait, catering services, import and export of food related items, representation of foreign companies, as well as advising others in such businesses.
CEO Amin Mohamed summarises the company’s current position: “Within Kuwait we now manage and operate internationally recognized brands: Burger King, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Applebee’s, Kababji, and Burj Al Hamam as well as our own home grown local concepts: Scoop a Cone, Fol O Yasmine, Melting Point, Fley Fley and Ayyame. We have our own state-of-the-art Fresh Productions manufacturing facility with a capability for an extensive range of pre-packaged, own-label and private label foods and catering, as well as our own Distribution Center.”
He believes that the company is recognised as one of the best operators, with very strong delivery fundamentals. In Kuwait, Kout Food Group achieves the largest per restaurant volume in terms of number of deliveries.
The core asset
“Central to our values at Kout Food Group is a passion for food and people,” says Amin Mohamed. “People are at the heart of what we do, and delighting our customers is what motivates us. As a family-business, our culture is a unique feature, and a differentiator.”
“We are proud of our 4,000+ employees from around 38 nationalities, most of whom come from different countries. The ability to bring in different people from around the globe and to create a family atmosphere is something special.”
He explains that the company’s family attitude goes beyond the work environment – At Kout Food Group cultural activities such as Ramadan, Eid, Diwali, Christmas, Kuwait National & Liberation Day, etc are celebrated to exemplify diversity, and competition events such as Kout Olympics, Kout Got Talent are organized in which staff and management actively participate, and the feeling of togetherness has been amongst the factors contributing strongly to the company’s success over the years.
This attitude of team spirit and resilience has helped us at Kout Food Group to stand strong and bounce back during the Covid-19 crisis, the biggest challenge for the food sector of recent years, Mr. Mohamed affirms.
“The safety of our staff as well as of our customers was of paramount importance to us and we strived to do the best in this respect. As Kuwait imports over 90% of its food, it was challenging for us to scale down when everywhere was closing down, and then scale up again when restaurants opened up. The credit goes to our teams, who have adapted very well to these unprecedented demands.”
Staff wellbeing has been at the centre of the management’s attention – meals were provided to employees sitting at home during lockdowns, and with Safety as the focus, the company organized vaccination drives at its facilities, reaching 2,500 doses in a single day.
The company took all measures to make sure staff retention stays high. “We did not touch team members’ wages, salary cuts were implemented at the management levels,” says Mr Mohamed.
“Most of our team members come from somewhere else in the world, financially supporting their families at home, and we could not allow this to stop. We as managers could survive on lower income, but they could not. It was important to show the staff that they are not the first ones to feel any pain.”
A similar approach was taken to the company’s suppliers, he continues: “We believe in three wins. For us to win, two stakeholders need to win with us – the guest must see value in the service we provide, and the vendor needs to see value in the relationship with us.”
“During the crisis, we reached out to our suppliers and agreed on an arrangement that would work for all. I was proud to see the amount of support we got from our suppliers, who in turn benefitted massively when we opened again.”
With the darkest pandemic months hopefully over, the company is ready to accommodate possible changes in customer behaviour. Many brands will have to add delivery to stay profitable, says Mr Mohamed, who believes that delivery will push the agenda for many businesses in years to come.
“Dining will have to change, with a reduced number of seats, and added car service and take-away. We watched the progressing change in the consumer habits during the lockdowns when the volumes of deliveries skyrocketed. When dining opened again, we could see a small increase but it did not take the volume from delivery. It will take time to come back to pre-Covid behaviour.”
He acknowledges that the company has always recognised that delivery was a very important revenue generator. He himself has been in the business for 25 years, with the last 12 with Kout Food. Starting as a delivery driver for Pizza Hut at the age of 18, he knows the process inside out.
“Way before the pandemic we had invested a lot in technological solutions to enhance delivery performance. This was an advantage at a time when many businesses have struggled, enabling us during the lockdowns to achieve results that exceeded our expectations and outperformed the market.”
“Of course, these results would have never been achieved without our excellent staff. I am grateful to every single one of them. They are amazing! The future looks bright and I am confident in our ability to keep moving forward.”