What is in this article?:
Nation's Restaurant News was treated to exclusive access to Herfy, a Saudi Arabia-based quick-service chain with 195 units in the Middle East. This article originally appeared in the Nov. 26 issue of Nation's Restaurant News. Subscribe here.
A look inside
Stable management has helped, too, Brown said. “The No. 1 thing about Herfy is the continuity of competent management, from the operations people to the CEO,” he said. “A lot of the people I worked with 20 years ago are still there, including Mr. Saeed.”
Osama “Sam” Bader, Herfy’s general manager of restaurants, said the longevity has led to consistency for the brand.
“The more experienced the people that you have, there are results that you can get,” Bader said. “They understand the business very well. They contribute to the growth in sales.”
The company also seeks out new executives and fresh management, Bader added.
“You need those fresh ideas,” he said.
Founder Saeed added, “We are very proud to have over 80 percent of our managers who have been promoted internally due to the development opportunities and training we provide.”
Herfy provides on-the-job and classroom training for managers before they are placed in their positions.
“These courses involve operations, administrative classes, behavioral management and equipment maintenance,” Saeed said. Training is provided in both Arabic and English.
Like most retail businesses in Gulf-region nations, Herfy relies on imported labor from such countries as Nepal, Pakistan and the Philippines. But over the past two years the kingdom has been putting increased emphasis on its “Saudization” program, which aims to have 30 percent of employees in the kingdom’s businesses be Saudi nationals.
The king has emphasized this policy to encourage employment of Saudi nationals in the private sector — which is dominated by workers from Southeast Asia and Western expatriates — through monetary incentives.
Alwaleed said Saudization "is very important for us for national security. Saudis are beginning to accept the idea of being chefs, waiters and back-office [workers], etc.” Herfy is now at the high end of the designated target, he said.
“From the macro point of view, you are going to have [fewer] expatriates here and less pressure on hospitals, schools, universities, roads, water,” he said.
In a desert kingdom, water is a particularly scarce resource, especially on the plateau in the middle of Saudi Arabia where Riyadh is located. Water is piped from desalination plants on the coast.
“We are joining the industry in our concern about all phases of recycling,” Saeed said. “We live in a country with water challenges, and we support tight water-management controls. We were first to the market with cooking oil, cardboard and paper recycling and remanufacturing. It is sold to a recycling company, and this is helping usreduce our carbon footprint.”