Cinnabon is the first U.S. franchise to enter Libya. The company opened a bakery-cafe in downtown Tripoli on July 2. The company is also looking to build franchises in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, said Mike Shattuck, president of Focus Brands International, parent company of Cinnabon.
The new 7,500-square-foot Cinnabon store is located on a busy street in Tripoli’s business district. According to the company, the Tripoli Cinnabon store logged $45,000 in sales in the first week of its opening. Shattuck said, “Ultimately, we think there’s an even larger opportunity in the country for us.”
Two years ago, when U.S. sanctions on the country were easing, the company started seriously considering expanding into Libya. Shattuck said, “We were in every major market in the Middle East. Expanding into Libya made sense as part of our emerging market strategy.” The company currently has more than 900 locations in 51 countries. Cinnabon is based in Atlanta.
The company had received numerous franchise inquiries from Libyans living overseas. Shattuck said, “They were already familiar with the brand and wanted to bring it to Libya.” The company plans to open at least 10 Cinnabon locations in Libya over the next four years.
Cinnabon’s expansion into Libya had been planned for the early months of 2011. The company had selected local franchise partners, selected a location, and had shipped the first products when the country erupted in civil war. Shattuck said, “We quickly halted everything because the revolution happened. Fortunately, we were able to secure the location and it made it without serious damage.”
Chuck Dittrich, executive director of U.S.-Libya Business Association, said American business interest in Libya is growing. The U.S.-Libya Business Association is a trade group representing American companies interested in doing business in Libya. Much of the interest is coming from the energy, infrastructure, and health care industries. The trade group led a delegation of 20 American companies to Libya to discuss business opportunities in April.