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Nov, 01 2008

UK Chicken Express in India

The Indian Food and Beverage market is witnessing a great growth. With the growing population and westernisation, the lifestyle of people is changing and so are their tastes and preferences for food. The Indian retail market is undergoing an immense chang

Origin of Southern Fried Chicken Express

Fast Food Systems Ltd, a market leader in the designing, manufacturing and installation of high quality quick service restaurant equipment, operates the Southern Fried Chicken (SFC) Express, a restaurant chain serving a range of fresh chicken and other food products. SFC Express was introduced to the British public in 1980 by the Withers family.

Working initially was challenging but very soon hundreds of SFC outlets were opened all over the UK as add-ons to the existing restaurants. SFC experienced instant success and with the growing demand a consistent and uniform business plan was established to present SFC as a brand name. With franchising as a mode of expansion today, SFC can be found in 68 countries around the world including China where one restaurant has been opened in Shanghai and a second is due to start shortly in Beijing.

SFC Store

The main attraction of SFC is the variety in its products. Freshly marinated chicken, seasoned and pressure fried are the main menu items of the store. There is a standard design and colour scheme for all the stores. The signage and menu have a colour scheme of bright red and yellow colour. The average size of a store is 100metres and the food courts are of approximately 80 metres. The bigger stores of 200 metres have a seating capacity of 100 seats. UK has more take away restaurants but in other countries sit-down restaurants are more popular.

Franchise System

SFC franchisee promotion plans are carried out at UK exhibitions where worldwide visitors come and develop their interest towards the company. The company`s income is earned through the exclusive supply of ingredients and packaging to the franchisees. The international franchisees are liable for the travel and accommodation cost incurred prior to opening but there is no annual royalty, management or other ongoing fee charged by the company. The cost varies in other countries and is sometimes affected by the factors outside the parameters of a standard business plan. Master licensee manages the international development by controlling the local distribution and overseeing the franchise network. Master licensees are responsible for establishing their own flagship in a new country, before they start with a sub-franchisee.

Expansion Plans In India

The food and beverage industry is growing at a great pace globally and India is one market that can`t be ignored. The population in India is growing and there is a demand for western quick service food and entertainment. The average spend per person is on the increase and therefore the market is now ready. SFC plans to expand in India and with the help of the right partners it wants to develop the market for its product. It wants to start with a master franchise and once it`s found, the market can be developed at a sustainable rate of openings in a short span of six months. The Indian market has potential for approximately 200 stores across the territory. SFC has a developed flexible system which it helps it to meet market demands locally. It has plans to add vegetarian options like rice to the menu so that it can make the international label suitable for Indian conditions.

Selecting Franchisees

The franchise system has been developed to allow any individual, regardless of experience to own and operate his/her own business profitably. A successful running SFC outlet doesn`t require huge amount of capital. The major requirement from a franchisee is the urge for success which is acquired through the long hours of hard work. SFC also provides help to the franchisees who are new to this business in the form of negotiating the loan funding, as it has good contacts with banks and financial institutions. A franchisee should be prepared to work and provide its complete focus on the business. The franchise agreement is for a five-year period, renewable at the option of the franchisor and franchisee for a further five years at the end of the first term.

Training and Support

SFC Express requires the key personnel from each franchise to attend and complete a training programme. The training is broken down into equipment commissioning and actual trading training. Equipment commissioning is conducted by fully qualified personnel or nominated representatives of the company. Training sessions of three-four weeks are provided to the staff recruited by the new investors. This takes place in a specially designed centre in Reading and in existing stores where they get hands-on experience of day-to-day operations. Master licensees use the same format to provide training in other countries. Ongoing support includes site inspections, back-up training and advice on a range of issues such as costing and sourcing of food products, marketing, promotions and standards.

The fast food industry is the fastest growing market and many players are attracted to it. SFC Express has become a legendary brand name in the industry and many investors are keen to work with it. The future looks very bright for this globally recognised company.

Exploring the Indian market

In an interview, Andrew Withers, Managing Director, Southern Fried Chicken Express, talks about the company`s expansion plans in India.

The Franchising World (TFW): What is the USP of SFC Express?

Andrew Withers (AW): SFC Express is a big brand that requires a small budget. We are adaptable to the market which creates flexibility. We offer a full comprehensive operating system and we have in place procedures to open and run the business successfully. Local produce is used to create fresh products in store. We have a full range of marination and breading to make the products tasty and great looking.

TFW: What kind of business arrangement are you looking at for entering India?

AW: We are looking at potential master franchises. We would like to open a pilot store first and after a period of at least six months agree to a rollout project.

TFW: What kind of research do you conduct before zeroing in on any country as a market for expansion?

AW: Market is research is carried out and surveys are conducted to decide whether the country is ready or not. We also look at our competitors to see how they are trading and what their rollout projects for openings are.

TFW: How many centres do you have at present?

AW: We are strong internationally especially in Eastern Europe and North Africa. At present we have 300 stores on a renewable agreement basis.

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