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Nov, 01 2006


MORE often than not, the franchising business and the food and beverage (F&B) business go hand in hand. The list of foreign companies who have come to India in the F&B section through the franchising route is endless. Not only in India, the F&B industry i

MORE often than not, the franchising business and the food and beverage (F&B) business go hand in hand. The list of foreign companies who have come to India in the F&B section through the franchising route is endless. Not only in India, the F&B industry is flourishing all over the world because of franchising. Now, it's the turn of Indian franchisors to consider the franchising route to expand their business worldwide. After companies like Dominos, KFC, Pizza Hut, Subway, Dunkin Donuts, Burger King, etc, have made inroads into India, the reverse is on the cards now. A set of new-age entrepreneurs abroad too are very interested in opening up trendy Indian restaurants there. And they also consider franchising as the ideal option. This newly developed idea has come at a time when Indian food is gaining popularity in the world.

Spreading the Indian Flavour

A distinctive style always stands apart and that is what makes Indian cuisine so popular abroad. Indian cuisine sells like hot cakes (pun unintended) in the overseas market for the different flavours it carries. It is keenly sought by food-lovers, be it the burgeoning set of foreigners or NRIs, hungry for good Indian food. As a result, there is an increasing demand for Indian restaurants. Indian chefs too are highly appreciated for their creativity and skills. Studies also reveal increasing prominence of Indian food like never before. The number of new Indian restaurants opening abroad is on the rise. It is evident that there are many people who have a passion to make Indian food the number one cuisine in the international market. So if you're looking to expand your popular dining concept, the time seems just right.The franchisees who are willing to take up the franchise of an Indian food company abroad want to do so to popularise, and cash in on the preference for, the Indian flavour amongst foreigners. Indians by and large find themselves closely associated with Indian food. Studies have revealed that Indians going on a vacation abroad are bound to choose Indian food over the local food. Thus, prospects for Indian franchisors offering Indian food abroad are good.

Has the Indian curry made its way?

According to studies, Indian food has tremendous potential. And now with a global food culture, people are keener to experiment. According to Aseem Dixit, the brain behind and promoter of Wraps&rolls, a snacks food chain in India, "The international market is just now getting ready for a good Indian chain to get into it." According to Shyam Sunder Aggarwal, MD, Bikanervala Foods Pvt. Ltd, an Indian sweets and snacks chain, "There is a great thrust for Indian food abroad. The Indian population is also growing in the world. Also, the cultures of various countries are coming closer day by day of which food is a major part. So, our main motive is to globalize the Indian food." Another reason given by Aggarwal to franchise abroad is the company's attachment with, and loyalty towards, Indian food. Says Aggarwal, "We have visited countries in Europe, America, the Gulf, South Africa. People there love good Indian food and ambience. However, in most of the places, the Indian food offered is of very bad quality. No Indian chain is giving honour to its food and culture." This has further led to an increasing need for Indian franchisors to franchise abroad.

Why Franchising?

Franchising in its basic sense offers a company the right way to make its name in different destinations, national or international. For a company it is not possible to go to each and every place and open its own outlet. So once a franchisor has set standards for his company and everything is organized, he can decide to move abroad. According to Dixit, "We can move overseas with the strategy of appointing a master franchisee (who will further appoint franchisees) because he knows his land more than we do, as we are actually sitting in India." His company has finalised a master franchisee in the US who can easily take care of the franchise business. Another major factor that is attracting Indian franchisors to move abroad are the laws governing franchising. Franchising is a serious business abroad. In the words of Dixit, "Franchising abroad is easier than franchising in India. The franchisees abroad adhere to your norms. Rules are considered rules there and that is the basic advantage."Sanjeev Kapoor, India's leading chef, who has given franchise rights at Al Nasr Leisureland, Dubai, UAE, says "We will tie up with a partner who has been in the field for some time and hence knows the market thoroughly."Some other companies also following suit are Dosa Plaza, Chawla's Chicken and Rameshwar's.

Is the Indian flavour attractive enough?

Localizing the menu as per the demands of the target audience is also on the cards for the franchisors expanding abroad. Combining local ingredients with traditional Indian food is also a way to have the customer asking for more. The buzzword here is to be adventurous, which involves a little transformation for the Indian food. Says Dixit, "The chicken tikka, which I offer in India will not be the same which I would offer abroad. The flavours which they are used to abroad are more subtle. Even Indians living abroad lose their original palate in just five years. We can't use the same sauces that they were used to. So we will be experimenting a lot." Dixit is also in talks with two multinationals to start making sauces for him. The different sauces will be specifically made to cater to different countries. Though the target market is basically where there is a predominant Asian society residing, you still need to have variations as per their tastes. To move to an international market, you first need to study that market to understand the tastes and preferences of your target clients.According to Dixit, "You have to research the target market in advance as there is serious money involved." Kapoor also firmly believes that you need to cater to the local tastes. He reiterates, "Variations in the original menu or so-called authentic recipes to suit the local palate is on my agenda."However, Aggrawal has a different point of view, "We are not localizing our menu. First we want penetration of our food into the local market. So far we have not faced any problems."

Hot destinations for Indian franchisors

Starting out in a completely foreign place is a difficult task. So, many Indian franchisors are considering to having a safer side. They are very keen to start franchising operations where there are NRIs According to franchisors, even NRIs are very keen to take up the franchise of an Indian food company. The intrinsic reason for their interest is that they are highly interested to bring in the India they know to their new address. Taking the food to America is on the wish-list of many. A few reports also suggest that a number of international and American venture capital companies are considering to invest in Indian companies so that they have franchisees all over the world. Typical street bites of India like like papri-chaat, samosa,, kachori, and dosa are also very much in demand abroad. Indian sweets and desserts also need no introduction in the international market. Bengal's rasagollas,, gulab jamuns, sandesh and mishti dhoi have already travelled far and wide. So, whether it is Punjabi, Rajasthani or South Indian food, they have found a loyal group of patrons in the international market.Once you have established a name for yourself in India, it is easier to move to the foreign markets and serve a new clientele. Countries on the hot list of Indian franchisors are USA, Australia, Canada, Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Britain. The demand for Indian food is on the rise in these countries because of a large presence of NRIs there. If we look at countries like Canada, we will realise that Indian restaurants have become a common feature in larger cities such as Vancouver and Toronto, where large number of Indian nationals are settled. If we look at Britain too, surveys reveal the popularity of Indian food. According to official surveys, every family, European or Asian, eats an Indian meal at least three times a week and one Indian restaurant meal at least once a week. Indian food is a hot favourite in Britain. It is reported that London has more than 8,000 Indian restaurants. Even the BBC Food Show proves every year that more than half of the trade in food in Britain can be attributed to India. According to a study conducted by consumer tracking firm MarketResearch, Asian food sales have increased by 27 per cent in America in the last four years. Reasons given for such an upsurge is the Americanizing of Asian cuisine. The Asian market is gaining popularity amongst the mainstream customers these days. Looking at such factors, fast food chains can easily take advantage of the situation. In the initial stages, you could face problems for making a name for yourself in the foreign markets, but the bottom line is that Asian food is the fastest-growing segment in the restaurant industry worldwide. Another fact is that as concern over health is increasing in America, Americans are now looking for more diverse and wholesome cuisines and Asian food rightly offers the same. Popularity of Indian food abroad is visible from the fact that after Chinese and French cuisines, Indian cuisine is the third-most popular cuisine in the world. To show their regional variations, many authentic Indian restaurants have opened their outlets abroad.As the world gets hungry to get a taste of India, never has the time to expand overseas been better for the Indian food franchisor. So, if you have a franchise model with the attributes discussed here, get ready to spread the Indian flavour across the globe. With the right ingredients, you are sure to savour profits.

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