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Apr, 01 2007


WITH the onslaught of MNCs like McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Burger King, and the most recent Starbucks in the Indian sub-continent, competition in the Food & Beverages sector is increasing like never before. Competition only leads to the betterment.

WITH the onslaught of MNCs like McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Burger King, and the most recent Starbucks in the Indian sub-continent, competition in the Food & Beverages sector is increasing like never before. Competition only leads to the betterment. This statement cannot be proved better than the growing awareness amongst the Indian F & B counterparts.

With increasing presence of international players in the Indian markets, Indian players are looking at various ways to mark their presence. And franchising is giving them a further boost to make a name for themselves everywhere.

Traditional Indian cuisine, owing to its various flavours and mix, has already made a name overseas and carved a niche for different Indian flavours it carries, even among the top international players. With a strong support for the Indian flavour, Indian players could not just sit back and take notice of the increasing number of international F & B chains in their home. To offer the due competition to international chains in the domestic market, Indian F & B chains are all geared up to make their business more organized.

Franchising the right option

India is a huge market with a thriving class of urban consumers, comprising more than 50 crore. And with economic growth making its mark, no international player could afford to ignore the burgeoning Indian market. For international chains franchising offers the right option to make a pan India presence in just a couple of years. Even the biggest F & B chain in the world, McDonald's, which has a JV for the Indian market has now adopted the franchise route to make a pan India presence. To sustain this competition franchising offers the right option to our Indian F & B counterparts too.

Indian flavours and the traditional cuisines have always existed in every nook and cranny in the form of local dhabas. This food culture was related to Indians in each and every possible way. However, to make it more hygienic and classy, Indian restaurant chains soon realized the power to be a part of the organized retail sector. Adopting the franchise route will only add to a new level of professionalism in the services of Indian F & B chains.

Indian v/s international

Even after making their presence in India, international F & B chains have localised their menu so as to serve the Indian middle class well, which forms a major part of consumers today. Under such a scenario Indian franchisors know how to press the right nerve. To serve Indian customers well, Indian F & B chains are looking at franchising as the right way. Whether it's the famous Gaylords restaurants or our popular coffee chain Barista, they are all acting well to popularise Indian versions not only in India but abroad as well.

The Food & Beverages industry is witnessing spectacular growth. In spite of the reputed international brands having presence in India, the growth of domestic brands too is fast. Today, majority of women are working. Under these circumstances, most of the time couples prefer to dine out. Further, there is retail and industrial growth, which too contributes to the growth of this sector.

Indian F & B companies

Organized retail in India is growing at a scorching pace, and the food and beverage chains are favourably positioned to ride the boom. Chains like Nirula's, Moti Mahal and Bikanervala have strong backend and logistics in the form of a central kitchen and sourcing arrangements with best of suppliers. Except for the challenge of recruiting and retaining talent at all levels, F & B industry is expected to grow manifold in the next five years.

A brief profile of some Indian F & B franchisors who are moving ahead is examined here. The information carried here of various companies in the F & B sector contains details of only Indian franchisors and of those who have pioneered in home grown F & B sector.

Moti Mahal Delux - Invention makes the food click

Only a handful of restaurants in the history of gastronomy might be credited with inventing a cuisine or even a dish, and one of them is Moti Mahal, which made ordinary curry a butter-filled delight. It also turned the ordinary village tandoor for baking into a royal mode of innovation resulting into tandoori chicken and butter chicken, heralding a complete revolution in taste.

A transformation in Indian eating habits and a special place on the international gourmet map; the restaurant that grew to be a legend since 1920 and the man behind was Kundan Lal Gujral. Today, Moti Mahal with a boasting fleet of restaurants in India is best known for its authentic Indian and Mughalai cuisine and courteous hospitality. Moti Mahal Delux Hospitality is a rapidly growing catering company, comprising of professionals from hospitality industry and international chefs.

In 2005, with the launch of Café Moti Mahal, the effort has been to create an image of Moti Mahal from a fine dinning restaurant to a fast food dispensing unit for today's generation. Another feather in the company's cap is Moti Mahal Express counters at food courts in malls and highway restaurants. Recent launch of 'Darya' as finest continental chain by Moti Mahal is yet another achievement.

Future Plans: Moti Mahal is very keen to open new outlets across India and is eyeing on international markets as well. According to Ashim Gujral, MD, Moti Mahal, "We want to offer franchise of Moti Mahal Delux Restaurants and Café Moti Mahal in India as well as abroad."

Sagar Ratna - South Indian food maestro

Sagar Ratna is a well-known brand of restaurants chain in northern India serving vegetarian cuisine and specialising in south Indian delicacies. Sagar Ratna has established its own identity in northern part of the country for its high quality and hygienic food and personalised services meted out to customers.

Sagar Ratna opened its first outlet in 1986 under the constitution of Jayaram H.U.F. Within a span of a year, Sagar Ratna not only changed the identity of self but also forayed into other business activities. Today, Sagar Ratna is known for the quality and taste of its food and the services. The business of the entities was transferred to 'Sagar Ratna Hotels Pvt. Ltd' in 2003. The company started its first franchise operation at Ludhiana in 1999.

Talking about the chain's ever-increasing effort to offer the best in services and food, Jayaram Banan, Chairman-cum-Managing Director, Sagar Ratna, says, "We are specialized in South Indian cuisines and have already launched south Indian namkeens of more than 50 varieties across Delhi and north India. Gradually, we are also going to introduce North Indian and Chinese Vegetarian cuisines very shortly."

When asked about facing competition from international food chains in their native land, Banan said, "With the high standard of quality and economic pricing, quick and homely service, we can compete with any international brand. Further our cuisines are low fat and healthy one."

Future Plans: Planning to make a foray overseas very soon Banan says, "We have already started our overseas ventures in Singapore. In future, we are keeping our eyes on USA and UK markets. We have also started multi cuisine restaurant with bar under the brand name of 'Swagath', which is famous for Coastal, Mughlai and Chinese cuisine."

Nirula's - Carrying Different flavours

Nirula's, now a famous chain of casual dining restaurants, began as Hotel in India in 1934 with 12 rooms and a restaurant with bar licence. The Nirula's family, from whom it derives the brand name, were visionaries who recognised the dire need for good hospitality services in soon-to-be independant India's capital- Delhi.

The very first license in Food Preservation in India was awarded to Nirula's before 1947 and it still proudly carries the mark 'FPO 1' in its range of consumer products consisting of jams, preserves, sauces and syrups. Espresso coffee was brought in India for the first time by Nirula's in 1954.

The 70s saw Nirula's venture into the fast food business for the very first time in India, with the Pastry Shop, Snack Bar, Hot Shoppe and Ice Cream Parlour and into casual dining with Pot Pourri restaurant which included the first Salad Bar in India. In eventful decades of 1980s and 90s, Nirula's opened the first Central Kitchen to cater to the ever-growing chain of the first Indian Family Style Restaurant in various strategic locations in Delhi.

Time for expansion: Strengthened by the logistical support offered by the Central Kitchen, Nirula's expanded into National Capital region around Delhi city with outlets in Gurgaon, Faridabad, Noida and Ghaziabad and then opened franchised as well as own outlets in other states like Punjab, Haryana, Uttaranchal and Uttar Pradesh.

The Nirula's menu includes Indian as well as international food items. In all its formats, whether it is the large family style restaurants or in kiosks at high traffic points, the 21 flavours of Ice Cream, the Pastry shop, or an all-day dining restaurant like Potpourri, the menu variety is the widest in the particular category.

Future Plans: There are already six Nirula's outlets in various high traffic Indian Oil Corporation sites. The first Food Court Unit will soon come up in Sahara Mall, Gurgaon in 2007. A Nirula's Express will soon come up in New Delhi railway Station.

With proper utilization of funds, the support of strong franchise partners, an aggressive expansion strategy will be followed by Nirula's Group of Companies, such that it has a national presence with upto 150 new outlets in all major cities of India. At present, Nirula's is looking for partners in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and other states of North India. Talking about the responsibilities of their future partners, Sanjay Sachdeva, Director, Business Development and Projects, Nirula's Group says, "The franchisee should be responsible for all operations with HR and training support and in maintaining quality Standards as per company policies."

Bikanervala Foods Popularising Indian sweets & snacks

There are restaurants serving Indian food, snacks and chaat items. But Bikanervala is one brand that is making Indian traditional ethnic recipes gain prominence everywhere. Bikanervala is a pure vegetarian ethnic food chain. It offers all Indian food varities from east to west and north to south and various food items and sweets under one roof. Typical Indian chaat and snacks is the speciality of Bikanervala. At present, it has more than 700 products in its kitty. Sweets and desserts form its core speciality.

Initially the company had only two retail outlets in the year 1997, but today the company operates from 19 retail outlets. To serve in all its retail outlets, the company has a full-fledge team in each department which forms a total of 250 professionals.

The company is basically in the process of developing Indian food operation. For this new business for franchisees, the company wants to grow in a slow and steady motion.

According to Deepta Gupta, Franchise Manager, Bikanervala Foods, "The company is looking forward towards those partners who help in making the brand successful and continue to provide best quality and services."

At present the company has franchise outlets in and around Delhi like Naraina, Punjabi Bagh, Sahibabad, Ghaziabad and Chanakyapuri, and is planning outlets at Agra, Meerut, Lucknow, Noida and Surat.

Internatioanlly, the comapany started operations in 1993 at Katmandu and later opened in Dubai in 2002. Presently there are six international outlets of the company. In the next two years it will open outlets in Canada, New Zealand and Oman

Copper Chimney

Copper Chimney is Mumbai's foremost culinary landmark for over three decades. It serves authentic Indian cuisines of the Punjab and the North Western Frontier. The flagship restaurant inaugurated on November 26, 1972, at Worli, Mumbai, was the first to introduce the show kitchen with the tandoor where the diners are only divided from the kitchen by a huge transparent glass wall and can watch the entire process of their kababs being prepared in the tandoor and charcoal grill. This feature of Copper Chimney still remains a prominent feature in all Copper Chimney restaurants.

The characteristic of Indian cooking is the inspired use of spices. At Copper Chimney care is taken to ensure that the spices enhance rather than dominate the flavour of the food. Specialised foods originally master crafted by the chefs still are the mainstay of its menu.

Copper Chimney was one of the only restaurant chains to adopt the franchise mode as early as 1994. The Copper Chimney at Chennai was the first franchised outlet, which remains a prime free-standing restaurant till today.

Talking about the future of F & B franchise in India, Mr Shikha Nath, Director, Blue Foods Pvt. Ltd says, "The future for Indian companies to franchise in the Food & Beverage industry is bright as the cosmopolitan Indian is now eager to explore new tastes and absorb global trends."

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