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May, 01 2009

India`s first Food Franchising platform

Aimed at deriving value and dissemination of franchising knowledge thereby enlightening budding franchisors, franchisees, entrepreneurs and the franchise fraternity of the business opportunities in the food franchising industry and its scope in the Indian

Aimed at deriving value and dissemination of franchising knowledge thereby enlightening budding franchisors, franchisees, entrepreneurs and the franchise fraternity of the business opportunities in the food franchising industry and its scope in the Indian market, a CEO round table conference was held under the aegis of Indian Franchise Association on March 27, 2009, at Tivoli Garden Resorts, New Delhi.

Presided over by the author, the conference was attended by stalwarts from the food industry including Sameer Kuckreja, CEO and Managing Director, Nirulas; Nagendra Prakash Bhargava, Chairman, The Midland Fruit and Vegetable Products India Pvt. Ltd; Jayant Kochar, Managing Director, Go Fish Retail Solutions, and Arun Bakshi, Consultant and Advisor, as the convener.

The conference had the presence and support from FICCI representatives: Sanjay Khajuria, President CIFTI and Vice President, Nestle and Dhiraj Gyani, Sr. Assistant Director, Food Processing, CIFTI, FMCG Retail & FYLF. Dhiraj Gyani unveiled India`s first exclusive Food Franchising Report along with Ritu Marya, Executive Editor, The Franchising World. A dynamic interactive discussion between delegates and the panel of experts centered around growth prospects in food franchising, understanding financial aspects, techniques of recruitment of franchisees and knowing how to acquire a foreign food and beverage franchise in India.

Sameer Kuckreja shared his brand`s business plans of opening 25 to 30 new outlets that would be in their existing formats, including express, kiosk, highway and standalone entities across the country during the next fiscal year.

Besides sharing expertise and insights into the industry, the panelists participated enthusiastically in a question and answer session touching upon issues like challenges in franchising business, real estate-malls vs high street, and franchise formats, viz, fine dine, fast food.

During the discussion the participants were unanimous of the view that the current downturn was a temporary phenomenon and that the food and beverage industry would eventually bounce back - in a much bigger way. The panelists while actively delving on technology, equipment and food safety in order to run a franchise business successfully, agreed that today`s spiraling rentals, high raw material costs and a plethora of taxes made the restaurant and hotel business challenging. The panelists deliberated upon difficulties one could face and the solutions thereon while running a franchise business; for example legal documentation, supply chain, standardized menu, innovation and training not just for the front staff but back end too.

Today, there is a need to educate people to relate to the brand and to be passionate about it. The keyword is Entrepreneurs not mere Investors.

Towards the end of the session, the panelists and delegates had a one-to-one interaction and opined that it was the product that the customer should be able to relate with. The forum, an eye-opener for new players as well as veterans, did send many participants wiser. We would caution prospective investors in franchising once again - be well informed, evaluate the right opportunities and negotiate with due diligence.

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