UAE discount firm sets sights on SA

2012-09-12 14:48
Donna Benton, CEO of The Entertainer. (Nielen Bottomley, News24)

Donna Benton, CEO of The Entertainer. (Nielen Bottomley, News24)

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Cape Town – With over 352 million vouchers from 4 000 merchants being printed in 2011, one of United Arab Emirates (UAE)'s discount companies is now setting its sights on South Africa.

The Entertainer provides "buy one get one free" coupons for well-known dining, leisure, entertainment, and hotel brands all published together in different books. The two-for-one deals must be on a main meal if a restaurant, admission if a leisure destination or on specific treatments if it is a spa or salon.

"South Africa just ticked all our boxes," Donna Benton, CEO of the company, told News24 of their decision of coming to the country.

The Entertainer was started by Benton in 2001 and expanded to the 11 countries since then, including Cyprus, Kuwait, Singapore and Thailand. Earlier this year saw private equity firm Abraaj capital buying a 50% stake in the company in a multi-million dollar deal.

The Entertainer is also very popular with tourists. Travel site, Tripadvisor, is rife with reviews of tourists going to Dubai and reccomending the book. "They're very good guides as well of where to go and try new restaurants," Benton said.

Daily deal sites

Benton said The Entertainer is nothing like daily deal sites such as Groupon as they don't aim at the mass market and customers can plan their activities by what's in the book. All of the deals in the book are two-for-one deals and can be used for both dinner and lunch.

The South African version of The Entertainer will include coupons of restaurants, spas, travel, leisure, and family from 150 to 180 merchants. Unlike other countries, The Entertainer South Africa will for the first year contain all the vouchers and will not be sold in separate books.

Of the coupons in the book, 60% will be useable in Cape Town and surrounds and the remainder in Johannesburg. The book will also be available overseas for tourists planning on coming to South Africa.


Benton is optimistic about the challenges they face. "There will be some people in the first year who will be sceptical about the book, but we believe in our brand," she said. "People don’t actually realise what it is if they don’t actually feel it and touch it."

The book will be available at the end of the year for R450 from shops like Pick n Pay, Exclusive Books and CNA and online at a 10% discount with free delivery worldwide. As a way of giving back, The Entertainer will also be sold via schools, with the school keeping a percentage of the profit.

The book will be available on the shelves in December and ready for use in 2013.

- Follow Nielen on Twitter

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