Global Franchise Architects has moved upwards in the growth chart ever since its conception. In the last thirteen years it has spread globally with nine food services and more than two hundred stores in eleven countries. Joseph Cherian, CEO GFA India and Managing Director GFA Global Services talks about the company growth and future plans
Abha Garyali (AG): Tell us something about the origin, growth and success of GFA?
Joseph Cherian (JC): Fred Mouawad, the founder of GFA was always intrigued by the power and growth potential of retail brands that are recognised, visible, and accessible to a large customer base. He launched his own brand ‘Pizza Corner’ in 1996. He also found Coffee World in Bangkok after he saw the popularity of coffee. A few years later, in 2004, Fred bought the shares held by his equity partners and formed Global Franchise Architects (GFA). Fred's vision behind GFA was to start a company with one operating system to manage multiple brands in numerous countries. 2004 onwards GFA launched the Cream & Fudge Factory, Conizza, the Donut Baker, Golden Pretzel, Stone Fire Pizza Kitchen and Juisomania. In India the GFA portfolio has four brands - Pizza Corner, Coffee World, the Donut Baker and the Cream and Fudge Factory.
AG: How can franchising help a company in its progress?
JC: Franchising helps in the process of entering market which requires strong local knowledge. It also helps the franchisor to leverage the investments in infrastructure, training and other support related functions.
AG: What qualities do you look in prospective franchisees for your company?
JC: We at GFA seek for highly motivated organisations or entrepreneurs with a sincere commitment for building a retail brand in their territory. More specifically, we believe that to succeed in the franchise business one needs to have the 3 Cs: capital, commitment and competence.
AG: How many franchisees do you have and in which all cities in India?
JC: 35 per cent of our stores are franchised and spread across Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kerala. For the eastern region we have an area franchisee for all GFA brands.
AG: What all training and support do you provide to the franchisees?
JC: At GFA, we provide support in the market study to analyse and assess the potential for each brand in each specific market; store design, store construction, recruitment of the staff, research, development & marketing. We also provide training at the GFA academy that offers a broad range of technical and managerial courses. GFA also has certified support personnel that can travel to a territory and assist during the opening stages and conduct local training.
AG: How much investment is required by an aspiring franchisee in terms of money and time?
JC: The investment ranges from five lakh for a Donut Baker Kiosk to 60 to 70 lakh for a dine restaurant of Pizza Corner. For a restaurant to succeed one needs 100 per cent commitment to ensure product quality and high level of service.
AG: What are company’s future plans in terms of expansion through franchising?
JC: We are always in constant pursuit for finding right partners to expand our business.
AG: What is the break even period for a ‘GFA’ franchise?
JC: Based on the format and location the break even period would range from one to three years.
AG: What are the challenges that can be faced by a franchisee in this business? How can they overcome these challenges?
JC: Finding the right location is always a challenge. We need to find a location which will ensure right foot falls and visibility. Over a period of time GFA has gained enough expertise in this area which comes as an advantage to the franchisee. Another challenge is to find the right people and retaining them. GFA’s expertise in selection process and training help our partners overcome these challenges.
AG: Share with us any new venture that your company has entered into?
JC: We have recently signed Eastern Region Franchisee Agreement with Gama Hospitality. Under this agreement, the franchisee holds the exclusive rights for managing and operating the portfolio of GFA brands in eastern India. Under the master franchisee agreement GFA in partnership with GHPL, plans to open 35 outlets across eastern India in the next 18 to 24 months.