Continuing its growth strategy to make India the largest market for GFA Global Services, the company has launched its first outlet of Cream and Fudge Factory in Chennai. In an interview, Joseph Cherian, CEO - GFA India and Managing Director, GFA Global Services shares the future plans of GFA Global.
Ramanjit Kaur (RK): Recently, the company has launched its first Cream and Fudge store in Chennai. Kindly elaborate on this new venture?
Joseph Cherian (JC): We have launched our first Cream and Fudge store in Chennai on the June 10, 2011. It is an international smooth and creamy ice-cream brand that offers super premium smooth and creamy ice-cream made fresh on-site. After the customer selects their favorite flavors the ice-cream is hand folded on a frozen marble slab with the customer's selection of mix-ins of nuts, fruits, candies, cookies and fudge. We have also signed an area franchise for Delhi and NCR for Cream and Fudge and Coffee World. Besides this, we have signed a Master Franchisee for Donut Baker in Bangalore as well.
RK: Could you please shed some light on the origin of GFA and its brands Pizza Corner, Coffee World, Donut Baker?
JC: Brain child of Fred Mouawad, GFA started its operations by opening a pizza restaurant in Chennai, India. At that time he considered becoming a franchisee himself but quickly realised how difficult it was to become a partner of an established international chain without being a large corporation and having direct experience in the restaurant business. As a result, he launched his own brand ‘Pizza Corner’ in 1996. In 1997, one year after launching Pizza Corner in India, Fred saw a similar opportunity in Thailand in the Coffee category. He, therefore, set out to found Coffee World in Bangkok, Thailand, and to position the brand early in the development of the market. Pizza Corner and Coffee World were always two separate ventures operated independently, and in 1999 Fred secured private equity funds to invest in both businesses separately. Finally, in 2004, Fred formed Global Franchise Architects (GFA) by buying out the shares held by his equity partners. Currently, the GFA portfolio in India has four brands - Pizza Corner, Coffee World, The Donut Baker and The Cream and Fudge Factory.
RK: Why did the company take the franchise route and how it helped the company to grow?
JC: Franchising helps you to increase scale and also make the process easier to enter markets which require strong local knowledge. It also helps the franchisor to leverage the investments in infrastructure, training and other support related functions.
RK: How do you select your franchisees? What kind of background is required to secure GFA’s franchise?
JC: We are looking at highly motivated organisations or aspiring entrepreneurs who are committed to build our brands in their specific territory. We firmly believe that the success of any franchise business requires a franchisee to have three Cs, which are Capital, Commitment and Competence.
RK: How many franchisees does the company presently have?
JC: Presently, 60 per cent of our total outlets across India are franchised.
RK: What kind of support and training do you provide to your franchisees?
JC: At GFA, we help our franchisees in conducting the market study to determine the potential of each brand in the particular market; store design, store construction, recruitment of the staff, research & development and marketing. We provide training at the GFA Academy which offers a broad range of technical and managerial courses onsite as well as at the academy. The courses are designed to provide our franchisees with the key skills required to run the stores with a focus on quality and an understanding of what is required to continuously improve the overall customer experience. GFA also has Certified Support Personnel that can travel to your territory and assist during the opening stages and or conduct local training.
RK: Any advice for the young entrepreneurs?
JC: Food business is indeed a lucrative business to be in. But one needs to be passionate and committed. You got to be service oriented and should have the commitment to invest constantly to improve customer experience.
RK: What are the future plans of the company in terms of expansion through franchising?
JC: We are looking at expansions in all major cities in South India and tier II cities in the south. In the east and north we have Master Franchisee who will expand across West Bengal, Orissa, Assam, Bihar, Delhi and NCR. We are open to single unit franchisees across south and in the other regions we are looking at Area Franchisees for all our brands.