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Nov, 03 2012


ACE Indian shooter and Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra is now ready to take a shot at food business. He has formed a joint venture with US-based Pizza Vito Pizzas, called the Pizza Vito Holding, to bring the brand into India. In a tête-à-tête with N

ACE Indian shooter and Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra is now ready to take a shot at food business. He has formed a joint venture with US-based Pizza Vito Pizzas, called the Pizza Vito Holding, to bring the brand into India. In a tête-à-tête with Namita Bhagat, he talks about the brand's further growth plans in India via franchising.

What inspired you to venture into F&B business?

While it is true that shooting has always been my passion, I am competitive by nature. I see the next great business opportunity in India and Asia at large in F&B. As an athlete you must always adhere to a strict diet, constantly optimising your body and mind. Thus, I have had a different relationship with food. I aim to use this unique viewpoint, along with an eco conscious attitude, to compete in the F&B business. To share a little secret, I have always had a soft corner for pizza.

Tell us about your partnership with Pizza Vito?

When I met Joe Dibartolo, Founder of Pizza Vito, I could sense immediately his passion for high quality Italian food. When he spoke of his mother's cooking inspiring him to become an F&B entrepreneur, I knew I had found the right partner. I had not even tasted the food yet, and when I eventually did, it far exceeded my expectations. As we all know master franchises are limited with quality brands operating in India, let alone having a passionate founder willing to devote time to grow his brand in this country. I seized the opportunity to work with such a committed entrepreneur. Joe has grown up around pizza and has personally owned and operated over 50 outlets in the last 30 years. PizzaVito came to exist in 2008 as a culmination of his vast experience and dream to share his passion for Italian food with the world. I am the proud co-owner of PizzaVito in Asia.

How do you plan to develop the brand in India?

We already have a few outlets in operation in Delhi, with more outlets coming up in other cities this year. We have a robust goal and are looking at 500 outlets in five years. We have the organisational infrastructure, executive team, marketing, operational knowledge, supply chain and more in place to meet this goal. We are looking to partner with a select few individuals as our sub-master franchisees in certain key states. We plan to expand via corporate stores as well as franchising. Our potential franchisees must share our passion for high quality Italian cuisine. A franchisee can expect ROI in less then two years and profit margins above 20 per cent. Moreover, motivated by India's economic growth story, we, PizzaVito, will be well positioned to capture the rising demand and will enjoy scripting many franchisee success stories along the way.

What is the brand's market potential in India?

As India is the fastest growing pizza market in the world, Pizza Vito's potential is limitless here.  Being committed to excellence, we have created a test kitchen in India that will be used constantly to make our products unique as well as the most desirable, including offerings customised according to regional tastes. However our core value will always be to deliver the best and most original New York City style pizza to all in India.

How will you handle competition in the business?

Competition is 90 per cent mental, amantra that was taught to me at a young age. It applies here as well. People see the growth of other chains and feel overwhelmed by it. I see an opportunity in it and feel excited about the challenge. What is now apparent is a thriving market with very few opportunities for people to buy a franchise, as many of the 'big boys' do not offer their franchise for sale.

Kindly share with us the facts pertaining to your franchise.

We offer varied investment options, including a turnkey model as low as Rs 60 lakh to a large sit down facility which requires a larger commitment of up to Rs one crore. We provide up to four weeks training at our PizzaVito University with unlimited retraining. Then, two weeks before and three weeks after a new store is launched, we will have a team member working alongside the franchisee and managers to ensure success. We will follow up with in-store visits and supplemental training at regular intervals for the life of the store. We would ensure maintenance of high standard and strict compliance.

How do you plan to expand the brand internationally?

We are delighted with the demand for our brand internationally and are already in talks with several groups in the Gulf, Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. One has to consider several factors before entering a new country and the decision will not be taken lightly. However, we expect to have a number of outlets operating outside India by next summer.

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