Press Release

November 2, 2022

Gulf Capital Sells 100% of Chef Middle East to NASDAQ-listed ‘The Chefs’ Warehouse’ (NASDAQ: CHEF) for c. US$ 100 million in an exit that Generates 2.5x Returns

Gulf Capital, one of the largest and most active alternative asset managers in the GCC and Southeast Asia, announced today that it has successfully completed the sale of 100% of Chef Middle East (“Chef ME”), the GCC’s premier foodservice distribution business, to The Chefs’ Warehouse (“TCW”), a Nasdaq-listed speciality food distributor operating across North America. The US$ 100 million successful sale is one of the few strategic sales involving a Nasdaq-listed company in the GCC region in recent years.

During Gulf Capital’s ownership, Chef ME grew its revenues by more than 150% and operating income by 91%. To achieve these strong results, Chef ME expanded regionally and increased its product range by adding 2,000 SKUs and 2,500 customers all the while maintaining a level of quality, service and expertise that is unique and valuable to its suppliers and customer. This remarkable growth is a strong testament to the operational improvement capabilities at Gulf Capital and its deep bench of operating partners and industry advisors.

Dr. Karim El Solh, Co-Founder and CEO of Gulf Capital said: “Our investment thesis in Chef ME was to capitalise on the region’s fast-growing and strategically significant hospitality and dining industries. With our operating partners and Chef ME’s board and management team, we put in place a very ambitious growth plan which we executed flawlessly. We are very proud of the growth of Chef ME during Gulf Capital’s ownership period. This control growth buyout with a deep focus on operational improvement and earnings growth followed by a global strategic sale is a good template for future private equity transactions in our region.”

Hazem Abu Khalaf, Managing Director at Gulf Capital said: “The Chef ME investment is a great example of Gulf Capital’s strategy of executing control buyouts, expanding the business into new geographies, expanding product offering and growing EBITDA through operational improvements. This marks a continuation of our track record of selling our portfolio companies to international strategic buyers after running a competitive sale process which attracted multiple regional and global strategic bidders. We are thrilled with the successful closing of this sale to The Chefs’ Warehouse and would like to thank both Chef ME’s management team and The Chefs’ Warehouse for their efforts in delivering this transaction. We believe that The Chefs’ Warehouse is ideally positioned to drive the next leg of Chef ME’s growth”.

“This is exciting news for The Chefs’ Warehouse, our partners, employees and our new colleagues at Chef Middle East. We thank Gulf Capital for entrusting us to continue the growth of CME into a leading foodservice player”, said The Chefs’ Warehouse Chairman and CEO, Christopher Pappas. 

Gulf Capital was advised by deNovo Partners and Eversheds Sutherland. The Chef’s Warehouse was advised by PwC and Shearman & Sterling.