Offering exotic experience of eating ice creams is Baskin Robbins, currently having more than 400 outlets pan India. In an interview, Subroto Mukherjee, COO, Baskin Robbins shares the success story and future plans of the company.
Abha Garyali (AG): Share with us the inception, growth and success of Baskin Robbins.
Subroto Mukherjee (SM): Baskin Robbins set up its operations in India in 1993- 94. Since then we have gone through a learning curve and now we are a well established brand in ice creams. Initially, we started as a parlour brand, but now we serve multiple channels of trade namely modern trade, food services and institutions, airlines, shipping as well as parlour operations. Growth had been difficult initially, but now we are growing year on year and at a very healthy rate.
AG: When did Baskin Robbins enter India? When and what motivated the company to adopt the franchise route for expansion pan India?
SM: Baskin Robbins was perhaps the first brand to enter India after the liberalisation policy of the government way back in 1993. Already a world leader in ice creams, its entry in India was a natural progression for the brand. Internationally, Baskin Robbins is very much a franchise concept as we believe that there is rapid market penetration and growth through this strategy since we have a tried and tested perfect model for the ice cream business.
AG: Do you face competition from other organised ice cream players in this category? What strategies have you employed for handling the competition?
SM: We have competition not only from other ice cream majors but also from dessert chain. However, our deep penetrations, first mover advantage and national presence, flavour range etc give us an edge over any competition.
AG: What is the USP of Baskin Robbins?
SM: Our main USP are our franchisees and the business model. Other than that we have economies of scale, large flavour bank and multiple channels of trade. We offer great value to our customers- where else can you get the international quality at the same price and volume.
AG: You have recently opened the 406th outlet of Baskin Robbins. What are your future expansion plans?
SM: We open 70- 80 outlets every year and we will continue to do so in future. In addition to parlours, we also activate 30 – 40 modern trade outlets and food service accounts every year.
AG: Kindly express your feelings on this occasion. Do you think that the success of the brand has been contributed by the hard work of the franchisees?
SM: Its certainly a milestone but we have miles to go. If we look at the bandwidth, possibly we can surely aim for 100 outlets in the next four- five years. It is a combination of great team, great product, and very good franchisee that have contributed to the growth of Baskin Robbins.
AG: What are the qualities and the criteria for the selection of your prospective franchisees? How much investment is required by them?
SM: We go through a stringent selection process like seeing and evaluating the franchisee’s interest in the business, location, due diligence and is carried out completely before we give the rights to a franchisee. Investments range from format-to-format but the range can stretch from Rs 4.5 lakh to 30 lakh depending on the outlet size and offerings.
AG: How many franchisees do you have in India and in which cities?
SM: We have around 360 franchisees as some have multiple outlets and we are spread across 95 cities.
AG: How does the company support and train the franchisees?
SM: We hand hold the franchisee right through from site selection, to rent negotiation, architect design support, equipment ordering at reduced rates, project execution, training before store opening, training through all standard modules of operations, selling skills etc and through continuous visit of our operations support personnel on a regular basis.