Franchise veteran Jim Cornish says the Middle East is a “fantastic” market for local franchisors looking to expand internationally, having recently launched his own franchise in Saudi Arabia.
Cornish is the chief executive of car-cleaning franchise Nanotek, which recently became the first Australian mobile franchise to launch in Russia under its former name Ecowash Mobile.
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Now it has launched a flagship fixed site in Al-Khobar in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Cornish says the official launch of the site attracted a huge level of local interest, including representatives for Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, Toyota, Lexus, Volvo, General Motors and Porsche.
Saudi Arabia isn’t Nanotek’s first foray into the Middle Eastern market. It also operates in Bahrain, Kuwait, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates, with plans to launch in Qatar.
But according to Fawzi Agel, general manager for Nanotek in the Middle East, the site concept for Saudi Arabia required more than a year of planning and development.
“This facility is the new template for our brand in the Middle East region, not only as a fixed site operation but as a base for our mobile operations,” Agel said in a statement.
“We have also extended our offering to include paint protection, headlight renovation, window tinting and body wrapping in order to offer… a complete car-care service tailored to our market.”
“This will now be incorporated into our franchise model for the Middle East.”
According to Cornish, the Middle East as a fantastic market for Nanotek due to its technology-focused mindset, strong car culture, and the effect of the harsh environment on vehicles.
“This is now the blueprint for our fixed site operations in all markets and the experience we gain here can be shared with our franchisees around the world,” he says.
Cornish says Nanotek plans to launch additional fixed sites in Jeddah and Riyadh, but not before it rebrands its Ecowash fixed sites in Mecca and Medina.
Meanwhile, Austrade chief economist Tim Harcourt identifies Dubai – the most populated city in the United Arab Emirates – as a hotspot for Australian companies.
“The new developments in Dubai have certainly brought in many great opportunities for Australian companies,” Harcourt says.
“Nowhere is that more apparent than at the… mother of all malls, Burj Dubai, where evidence of a ‘kangaroo mafia’ in the UAE is rife.”
Harcourt points out that while local culture is important in places like Dubai, there’s also a strong demand for international offerings, particularly in the way of food and fashion.
“Dubai will continue to be a place of growth and expansion, with the UAE seeing beyond an energy-dependent economy… Look out for a lot more Aussie action,” he says.