KLE Group acquires UBT&R in MoBay

Business

KLE Group acquires UBT&R in MoBay

BY RICHARD BROWNE
Business editor
browner@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, January 10, 2020

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KLE Group, franchisers of the fast-casual dining restaurant, Usain Bolt's Tracks & Records (UBT&R), has acquired full ownership of the Montego Bay location, meaning that with the original Kingston restaurant, it now owns all of the local restaurants.


On Tuesday, KLE finalised the acquisition of the Montego Bay franchise, which was owned by prominent hotelier and businessman Christopher Issa.


The company would not disclose the purchase price, but said “it was a fair value, making both parties extremely happy with the deal”.


The acquisition came after the KLE Group decided to approach the Montego Bay franchise owner with an offer to buy the franchise, an offer that was in direct alignment with the company's plans of streamlining operations and expanding the brand locally.


The idea and offer were “gladly accepted” by Issa, according to KLE, whose initial objective as a UBT&R franchise owner was less about operating the restaurant and more about seeding specific investments in and around the city of Montego Bay.


Issa added that he had hoped that something like this would have happened, as “my original intent was to add attractions to the strip to help revitalise local businesses and encourage tourists to patronise them.


“I'm very happy that the restaurant has developed a loyal following from locals and tourists”.


Gary Matalon, CEO, KLE Group, told the Jamaica Observer that the restaurant has performed very well since opening, both in terms of sales and customer satisfaction, and KLE now looks forward to operating in Montego Bay along with the Kingston operation, and the synergies that will come from operating both.
He stated, “When we approached Chris with our plan and made him an offer, he gladly accepted as it is a win-win for all of us. KLE Group now have full ownership and control of all the local franchises.”


The Montego Bay restaurant performs almost as well as the original restaurant in Kingston, Matalon said, even though it is significantly smaller.


“The MoBay numbers are very close to the Kingston numbers which consistently deliver strong profits. Keep in mind that the MoBay location is 2,000 square feet smaller than Kingston.


“We feel there is tremendous potential for growth with strong marketing support and the continued development along the Jimmy Cliff Blvd,” Matalon said.


The restaurant can hold a total of 170 guests, with 130 seats upstairs in the main dining room and the verandah seats, and a further 40 seats downstairs.
The restaurant gets a blend of both local and tourist diners, with an influx of tourists visiting in the peak season of November to March, and consistent local support year round “Overall, to date we are averaging 70 per cent locals to 30 per cent tourists,” Matalon told the Caribbean Business Report.


Meanwhile, customers should notice little to no change at the Montego Bay restaurant, as the company intends to continue to operate and maintain the existing offering.


“Keep in mind this was operated as a franchise prior, which meant ultimately we had control over the brand even under the previous management”, Matalon said.


“Going forward, we will continue to incorporate innovations and new offerings to enhance the customer experience, but this will be executed across all locations, not MoBay exclusively. For example, we are launching a new line of cocktails, live music series, new menu items and other initiatives, all geared towards enhancing the customer experience,” he said.


The wider strategy is to increase the number of restaurants in Jamaica, with Kingston looking like it will get a second restaurant.


“Our domestic strategy includes having five corporate-owned locations fully operating in Jamaica by the end of 2021. Kingston certainly has potential for a second location,” Matalon said.


Over in Ocho Rios, the company is readying for the reopening of a restaurant there.


“At this point we have identified our ideal location. Unfortunately, it is not ready for occupancy as yet, but we are hopeful this will be available sooner than later,” Matalon said.


International expansion of the franchise continues in the United Kingdom, and there are plans to test some of their menu selections locally.


“We have added an ital/vegan section to the menu over there to serve the massive market that exists over there for that. It is doing very well. We will test these items in the near future in the MoBay market as well,” Matalon said.


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