Aiming to expand aggressively across India, US Pizza is all set to share its franchise details and requirements. Sunil Kumar, CEO, US Pizza elaborates on the successful voyage of the company since its origin in Sweden and its future plans.
Abha Garyali (AG): Share with us the origin, growth and success of US Pizza; when, where and how did it originate?
Sunil Kumar (SK): The origin of the company traces back to 1989, when a young Iranian food technologist and an entrepreneur settled in Sweden, Vahid Berenjian had set up the first US Pizza outlet in Sweden. After getting a considerable experience, he set his eyes on opportunities in India in the early 90s, during the liberalisation of the Indian economy. In India, Vahid joined hands with Akbar Khwaja, an experienced restaurateur to set up his first store in Bengaluru in 1995. Akbar and Vahid partnered to take the brand pan-India. Over the years, US Pizza has seen an exponential growth which includes the opening up of over 73 outlets till date. The company has outlets not just in the metros but also in the tier II and tier III cities. This strategy has worked wonders for the company.
AG: How does franchising contribute to the growth of the parent company?
SK: Franchising is a partnership model in which the franchisee gains by taking charge of an already successful business model. On the other hand, the franchisor gains by spreading his business quickly without having to invest and with the help of eager franchisees. US Pizza has been in the franchising business since 1996, when we franchised our first restaurant. Over the years, we have developed the concept, such that, it is most efficient, for both the franchisee and the franchisor. Today, the majority of our outlets are owned and operated by franchisees.
AG: What are the qualities expected of a prospective franchisee who wishes to get a US Pizza franchise?
SK: The qualities required are as follows:
AG: How many franchisees do you have and in which cities?
SK: We have 52 franchisees in 27 cities and 21 company owned stores.
AG: What all training and support do you provide to the franchisees?
SK: The Company provides various kinds of training to the franchisees, like start-up, consultancy in designing and construction, logistics and ingredients, supply chain management, development, training and audit, restaurant operating systems, research and development, centralised direct sales systems, call center and online support.
AG: How much investment is required by an aspiring franchisee?
SK: US Pizza has three concepts of delivery, dine in and super dine in with a franchise fees ranging from Rs four to ten lakh. The total investment required for the three concepts ranges from Rs 22.50 to Rs 59 lakh.
AG: What are the company’s future plans in terms of expansion through franchising?
SK: Food retailing is spreading across the country and making its presence felt in different parts. In the last few years it has gained tremendous momentum because of many industry giants making an entry into this segment of retailing and offering exhaustive product range and services to the consumers. In the Indian retail industry, food is the most dominating sector and is growing at a rate of nine per cent annually. Factors behind faster growth of food retailing industry in India are the increasing disposable incomes, need for convenience, faster life style and increasing consumer awareness through the reach of media. US Pizza plans to open 25 more number of outlets by March 2010.
AG: What is the break even period for a US Pizza franchise?
SK: The break even period for our franchise is of six months.
AG: What are the challenges before a franchisee in this business? How can they overcome these?
SK: Managing the manpower is the biggest challenge faced by the franchisee in the ever growing Indian market. To overcome this challenge one has to keep motivating and giving incentives to the employees.