Pistache opens chocolate factory

Chocolate retailer Pistache is staging an ambitious expansion plan starting with the opening of its first chocolate factory this month.

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By  Roger Field Published  September 7, 2006

Pistache, a UAE-based producer of specialist chocolate, is continuing its expansion with the opening of its first factory in September. The company, which already has six stores in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, currently imports all of its chocolates from countries including Switzerland, Belgium and Lebanon. It is opening its factory in Abu Dhabi partly in order to make its supply lines more efficient and cut down the need for imports. News of the factory follows the opening of Pistache’s Abu Hail outlet, its first store in Dubai. The factory, which will cover some 320 sq metres and employ about 10 people in its initial phase, is expected to be open by September, according to Cumai Aboul Housn, deputy general manager, Pistache. It will be capable of producing up to 400 kg of chocolate a day and will eventually be staffed by 40 or 50 people. The company has also hired a specialist chocolate chef. “We have a very good chef, Hassan Hassan, who is one of the top chocolate masters in the world,” Aboul Housn told Retail News Middle East. “He is Arabic, giving him an understanding of Arab culture and tastes and he has a big knowledge of chocolate. He is currently working on some new products. “We are hoping to make this one of the best chocolate factories outside Europe because we are very selective in hiring people,” he added. “Chocolate is not a matter of equipment. It’s a matter of who is making it and how. That’s the point where we started. It took us about five months hunting to get the right person.” At the moment, most of Pistache’s chocolate is sourced from Belgium, Switzerland and Lebanon. The recent war in Lebanon caused significant disruption to Pistache, which had sourced about 50% of its chocolate from the country. “We suffered a lot last month and this is why we are now pushing for the factory. That is the only way we can meet our plans because you can not rely on certain suppliers,” Aboul Housn said. The new factory and the appointment of the chef are part of a wider expansion drive by Pistache, which aims to open three stores in Dubai this year, as well as another store in Abu Dhabi. The company’s seventh store will open in Marina Mall during Ramadan. “We’re starting here in the UAE, but the plan is to cover the GCC in the next three to five years,” Aboul Housn said. The roll out of new stores is particularly important part of Pistache’s strategy, according to Aboul Housn. “In Dubai you have to be near your client, because roaming in Dubai is not a joke any more,” he said. “We split our Dubai-operation into zones, and we want a store in each one,” he said.

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