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Famed for its Caribbean-inspired menu, Pollo Tropical, a quick-casual chain of tropical flame-grilled chicken restaurants, offers unique and distinct flavours. In a tête-à-tête with Namita Bhagat, Marc Mushkin, Senior Vice-President, International Develop
Famed for its Caribbean-inspired menu, Pollo Tropical, a quick-casual chain of tropical flame-grilled chicken restaurants, offers unique and distinct flavours. In a tête-à-tête with Namita Bhagat, Marc Mushkin, Senior Vice-President, International Development, Pollo Tropical, talks about the brand's recent foray into India.
Brief us on the inception and growth of Pollo Tropical. What is its USP?
Founded in 1988, in Miami, USA, Pollo Tropical is a part of Fiesta Restaurant Group, Inc.
The popular quick-casual chain of tropical flame-grilled chicken restaurants initiated its international expansion almost 16 years ago. Today, we have 90 company-owned restaurants in the United States and 35 international restaurants via licensees and franchisees. The overseas locations are in the western hemisphere, Latin America and Caribbean. Pollo Tropical provides a Caribbean-inspired menu with an exceptional price/value that no one in the industry can match.
What is the brand's potential in India?
India is one of the world's three or four largest markets. Its middle class is exceptional in terms of size. Also, chicken is extremely popular in India. We found that India and America share common features in their business structures, trademarks and IP regulations. We are comfortable here and the country's fair business climate is appealing to us. We have experience in the Caribbean market of Trinidad, which has a considerable Indian population, and an understanding of the Indian palate. As a result we believe very strongly in the potential for the brand's success in India and we are very excited about it. We have researched and will continue to develop enhancements in our vegetarian offerings which are critical for success in India.
How do you plan to develop the brand in the Indian market?
Pollo Tropical is expanding internationally, primarily through direct franchising. We have signed our first area developer franchise agreement for northern India with Delhi-based Paramount Cuisines Pvt Ltd. Our partner is committed to opening a minimum of 10 Pollo Tropical locations in the National Capital Region, Punjab, Chandigarh, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh between 2013 and 2016. According to our market research, we believe we can have four or five additional Area Developers. India is a vast geography with distinct regions, languages and cultures. In a new market there is potential for 100 to 150 stores but it's prudent to begin with a smaller and focused development strategy.
What store formats will the brand follow in India?
Pollo Tropical offers different store formats. Our new Indian partners are looking for feasible locations and we feel that the preferred locations for Indian market will be food courts and shopping centres, however, we remain open to other formats as well.
What is the financial criteria for a prospective franchisee?
For the potential area franchise, a minimum net worth of $ 5 million and $1.5 million of liquidity are the basic brand standards or financial qualification required. The minimum requirement may be greater depending upon the size of the territory to be developed.
How will the brand create a distinctive market edge for itself?
We believe Pollo Tropical offers unique products and the brand has proprietary recipes and systems. If we can secure site in premium locations and shopping malls/centres, we can be a key player in the fast-casual segment.