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Poor maintenance among GCC F&B outlets is costing building owners

F&B outlets are critical elements of the Gulf’s multi-use, leisure, and entertainment properties, but poor ventilation and maintenance could lead to losses for their owners

COMMENT, Business, Dubai municipality, F&B outlets, Gcc, Maintenance, Uae

The ubiquity of food and beverage (F&B) outlets in the Gulf’s mixed-use and leisure developments is hard to miss, but maximising their investment returns requires that property developers invest not just in extensive menus, but also in intensive maintenance programmes.

Last week, Dubai Municipality (DM) revealed that it had carried out a campaign to improve the quality of ventilation in 643 food outlets across the emirate (page 12).

Sultan Al Tahir, head of DM’s food inspection section, said the two-month campaign had led to 345 food establishments improving their ventilation systems by implementing maintenance works on their air-conditioning (AC) and related air quality units. This followed similar investments that were made by 141 outlets prior to the campaign’s commencement.

Tahir pointed out that cooking areas often feature high-temperature ovens that affect the ventilation quality of a facility. Naturally, this affects both the quality of the outlet’s food and the health of its employees. DM inspectors found that some workers “were exhausted by the intensity of the heat” generated within the food outlets’ kitchens, with several owners even being fined for repeat violations.

While F&B ventilation and maintenance may seem like the proverbial small fish in a significantly bigger pond, regional property developers would do well to direct their resources towards the sector’s advancement. Expo 2020 Dubai’s organisers expect F&B sales worth $544.5m (AED2bn) to be made on site when the mega-event kicks off in October 2020. This April, Gulf Related’s Insight Report, which surveyed 840 residents of Abu Dhabi, revealed that 87% of its respondents ‘always’ or ‘often’ visit a restaurant or café during a mall visit.

Clearly, F&B is big business, and it appears some regional developers and owners have – for a while – been aware of the benefits that stem from its upkeep.

In September 2013, Dubai-based Tetra Axis was invited by Emaar Malls to determine the effectiveness of its biological dosing products. Following initial tests, Tetra was awarded a three-year contract by Emaar, starting in July 2014. Robin Gibbs, group managing director of Tetra, said drain-line blockages within the mall’s restaurants and main kitchen systems “had decreased by 95%” in six months.

He elaborated: “The impact of fat, oil, and grease on the mall’s infrastructure was greatly reduced. For the mall’s management team, this coincided with the reduction of disruption to public areas and costs involved in jetting operations. Fewer blockages also mean that the risk of revenue loss from suspending kitchen operations – or even the shutting down of kitchens by landlords or authorities – is significantly reduced.”

Clearly, property development and management teams stand to make significant gains by investing prudently – but regularly – in the upkeep of their F&B outlets. Ownership models may dictate which team ultimately bears associated costs, but the benefits of such programmes would undeniably extend to all stakeholders.

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Construction Week - Issue 747
Aug 03, 2019