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Chipotle signs first-ever franchise agreement — for expansion in Middle East

Chipotle had over 3,200 restaurants as of March 31, 2023, in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Germany.

Chipotle Mexican Grill, which owns and operates all its restaurants, has signed its first-ever development agreement.

The company has entered into a deal with international franchise retail operator Alshaya Group to open restaurants in the Middle East and accelerate its international expansion efforts. Chipote will initially open new restaurants in Dubai and Kuwait early next year before expanding further across the region.  

“Leveraging Alshaya’s market expertise will enable us to quickly gain access to these vibrant economies,” said Brian Niccol, chairman CEO, Chipotle. “We are excited to offer guests in the Middle East our responsibly sourced, classically-cooked real food, and look forward to furthering our purpose to cultivate a better world in this new territory.”

Chipotle’s existing international portfolio of owned and operated restaurants includes 33 locations in Canada, six locations in France, and two in Germany. It also has 15 locations in the UK, with three more opening this summer.

In North America, the company currently owns and operates over 3,200 restaurants and is targeting 8 to 10% growth per year for the foreseeable future. Chipotle plans to open more than 255 restaurants this year, with a long-term target of 7,000 locations in North America.

Chipotle’s newly formed business development group, led by chief business development officer Nate Lawton, is exploring opportunities for growth via outside partnerships.  

The family-owned Alshaya Group was established in Kuwait in 1890. The company’s portfolio extends across MENA, Türkiye and Europe, with thousands of stores, cafes, restaurants and leisure destinations, as well as a large scale online and digital business.  It operates in multiple sectors including fashion, food, health & beauty, pharmacy, home furnishings and leisure & entertainment.

“In announcing this exclusive partnership across the Middle East, we are proud to be Chipotle’s first and only franchise partner, as we continue to enhance our portfolio by bringing world leading brands to our customers across our markets,” said Mohammed Alshaya, executive chairman, Alshaya Group.

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