Turkish sandwich chain Simit Sarayi is busy conquering the world and aims to open 200 new stores in 2015, 100 of those abroad. The focal point of that expansion will be the Netherlands.
Benelux stepping stone to success
"We may have been born in Turkey, but 'home' is where we make a living", chairman of the board Abdullah Kavukcu said. The Turkish "sandwich palace" opened its 10th Dutch store near the Amsterdam Arena last month and it also has one store in Belgium, near the De Keyserlei in Antwerp.
The group has already extensively planned its further European conquest, using the Benelux as a stepping stone. "Simit Sarayi has opened up to the world. In 2015 alone, we will add another 200 stores, inshallah. Half of those will be abroad."
It will also open its European headquarters in Rotterdam. "We have chosen the Netherlands, where we opened our first store in Utrecht in 2010, as our European base. Now, we have 10 stores over there and we hope to grow to 20 in 2015. We will also manage our new London store from the Netherlands and we hope to have 100 stores in Europe by 2016. That is why we are considering a factory in the Netherlands or Germany."
250 million euro turnover
'Simit' is a traditional Turkish sandwich, a typically white bread ring which is permeated with sesame seeds right before it gets baked. In 2002, the chain came up with the idea of offering this bread alongside a cup of tea, indoors. That was a novelty, as the bread rings were sold in food stalls on the street up until then.
At this moment in time, Simit Sarayi is present in 15 countries worldwide and allegedly has 500,000 customers per day, serviced by 6,500 employees. In Turkey, it is present at 300 prominent locations, mainly near public transport and universities. Its turnover grew 40 % in the past year, reaching 250 million euro. Only 10 % of that turnover comes from the 'simit' bread ring, while the remainder comes from drinks, simit with white cheese, börek (pastry filled with cheese, beef or vegetables), breakfast meals or even sesame-encrusted pizzas.
Abdullah Kavukcu, chairman of the board and its co-founder and co-owner, also owns a shopping mall, a construction company, a marketing firm and he also has shares in several other food chains. He is one of Turkey's new generation of industrialists closely tied to president Erdogan's conservative party.