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Dome seeking regional expansion

Dome, newly acquired by Navis Capital Partners of Asia, is looking to expand across the GCC.

The Dome chain of coffee shops is actively seeking out franchise partners across the GCC. The company, just bought for US $15 million by Navis Capital Partners, an Asian money firm, currently has five outlets in the UAE run by Al Ghurair Group.

In a statement, the company said it is "in active discussions with several groups for additional franchises in the Gulf region which do not overlap with Al Ghurair's scope — we are particularly interested in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman."

Although the coffee market is becoming crowded, Rodney Muse, a founding partner of Navis, feels that Dome is in a strong position because it occupies its own space.

"Dome occupies its own niche — we do not see the company competing directly with the likes of Starbucks. Starbucks sells mass market coffee, whereas Dome provides an environment where European style, fantastic food, and of course Dome's own premier coffee blends, all combine to create an ambience and lifestyle in which friends and families want to linger and luxuriate," he enthused.

Navis revealed that is also working with Shari'ah advisors to structure its takeover in a way that will allow Islamic investors to take part. Navis operates an Islamic private equity fund, which is described as the first of its kind in Asia.

Guidance Financial Group, based in Washington, is a sponsor of Navis' Islamic VC fund and has led money raising activities in the Gulf.

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