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Feb, 11 2013

WALKING THE PATH OF THE RICH & FAMOUS

From venerable actors to iconic sportsmen, from acclaimed gastronomists to much celebrated artists, franchise business has attracted one and all. Following in the footsteps of one's favourite celebrities, let's find out the franchise business opportunitie

LIGHTS...camera…action! These three words well personify the celebrated personalities of showbiz. Often these silver screen idols make their admirers experience various moods and expressions of life. But offstage they have taken a leap ahead beyond entertaining audiences. With franchising gaining prominence, these public figures have now taken a stroll up to the next level from reel to real life.

In the recent past, various domestic and international brands in different sectors have forayed into the Indian market. These brands have left no stone unturned to maintain their entity in the league while they have also inspired many celebrities to come up with their signature brand or seek franchise business with high returns.

Celebrity quotient of franchising

Recent trends show that many reel life actors and other celebrated public figures are making an entry into the franchise business relying on their strength and putting in money where their interests are. Some are making investments in partnership or through joint venture to open fast food chains, gyms and fitness centres, medi spas, beauty lounges and kids activity centres.

The Indian cinema fraternity has many of them who have taken up business corresponding to their areas of interest and strength along with their acting career. Shah Rukh Khan, Shilpa Shetty, Dino Morea, Rakhi Sawant and many other celebrities have entered the business of their interest via the franchise route. But what influence does the franchise brands having close association with celebrities bring to its revenue? Are they of great bet than any other business?

Vikram Bawa, Director, Strategic Expansion & Franchising, IOSIS, Spa n Salon, the brand that has Shilpa Shetty as co-partner, believes: “Having a celebrity as an equity partner and as a brand ambassador definitely attracts more attention in the market in terms of customers as well as investors. The awareness of the brand is more when a celebrity is endorsing as compared to any other product.”

Another brand, KidZania, an indoor theme park under the label of ImagiNation Edutainment India Pvt. Ltd., a joint venture between Singapore based Kidz Inc. Pte. Ltd. and Shah Rukh Khan, holds the franchise for the India operations. The brand that is headquartered in Mexico is coming up with its first theme park in Mumbai this year with Shah Rukh Khan as its 26 per cent stakeholder.

Viraj Jit Singh, Chief Marketing Officer, KidZania India, opines: “Shah Rukh Khan, other than being one of India's biggest and most successful film entities, is also a highly successful and keen businessman with many ventures under his belt.  His accomplishments with Red Chillies Entertainment and of late with his Kolkata Knight Riders IPL franchise are evidence of his brilliance both as a businessman and as a man with a vision and purpose to take India to the next level both in the world of entertainment and sports.”

Other than these, Crepe Station Café, a fine dine restaurant owned by another actor Dino Morea along with his brother Nicolo, aims to anticipate and respond to the tradition of sharing food, drink and conversation at one joint in the right ambience. His franchise restaurants are operational in various areas of Mumbai and Pune, while plans are afoot to expand more in Maharashtra. Meanwhile, Rakhi Sawant, a renowned name in showbiz, has successfully forayed into the beauty business with her signature brand operational in Mumbai by the name of Rakhi Sawant Beauty Lounge.

Scope to shoot & score

Apart from box office stars, Indian sportspersons have also entered the business arena to try their hands at the franchise biz, lately. With a promise to make a difference in the lives of their admirers, Mahender Singh Dhoni, Indian cricket team captain, has come up with his signature brand of gym by the name of Sportsfit and ace Indian shooter and Olympic gold medalist, Abhinav Bindra has taken a shot at food business through a joint venture with US-based Pizza Vito Pizzas, called the Pizza Vito Holding, to bring the brand into India. Bindra, who is competitive by nature, sees the next great business opportunity in India and Asia at large in the F&B sector.

Dhoni has successfully come up with his fitness centre, SportsFit, in Gurgaon, Haryana, on an area of 25,000 sq. ft at Global Foyer, Golf Course Road, Gurgaon. The brand which is aggressively looking for franchisees plans to expand, pan India. Dhoni envisions building a culture of fitness among the people of India and also enhancing the fitness of professional athletes

Wafting aroma via franchising

Celebrity Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is among the early players in the franchising business who has turned his expertise of cooking into a business of fine dine restaurant chain, by the name of The Yellow Chilli, under the aegis of Indian Cookery Private Limited (ICPL). Narrating the story of how the restaurant chain came into existence, Nenette D'sa, CEO, ICPL, says: “There were many letters written to Chef Kapoor by his fans that they would want to experience the same taste in their hometown as well. This made us think of the most accessible option to reach out to the largest number of audience through the easiest and most preferred medium i.e. Franchising.”

Started in October 2001 in Ludhiana, The Yellow Chilli restaurant serves mid-scale Indian cuisine and other popular Indian food with a twist. There are 32 restaurants in 15 cities with presence in five countries, including India, Nepal, Gulf, & Central Africa & Bangladesh.

Growing together

With a vision to further expand its footprints and to keep up the quality matching their standards, the franchising brands provide training and support to their franchisees or business partners from time to time.

Bawa of IOSIS says: “In our business module, even if the franchisee is not from the industry and is not aware of the health and beauty business, we have no issues with that. To meet the expectations of clients and for keeping up the quality of international standards, we provide complete management support to our managers and staff in the unit for day-to-day operations.”

In fact, ICPL has a team of talented hospitality professionals dedicated to making a world-class dining experience more accessible and affordable in India while promoting the Indian dining experience internationally. “We choose partners who have a passion for food. All franchisees are selected through various scrutinising process and on the basis of their experience in the food industry. Training at regular intervals is provided to our partners and a separate team is formed to ensure maximum support to our business partners that help them to operate smoothly and build business,” says Nanette.

While KidZania selects only those franchisees that have a prior experience in the entertainment, hospitality or media industries. “As part of the franchise package, KidZania offers its franchisees training and support through the University of KidZania. It is mandatory for every position of the franchisee team (from the CEO to the operation managers), to enroll in the University of KidZania to get trained and certified before operating,” informs Singh.

Requisites for expansion

Currently, IOSIS is operational in Lucknow and Guwahati via franchising, while five more outlets are due to open before May 2013 in Pune, Kanpur, Kolkatta, Rajkot and Banaras. Metros, tier-I and II cities in India are the preferred locations for the roll out of the brand. To seek the franchise of IOSIS spa, an investment of Rs 75 lakh to Rs 1.5 crore is required along with an area of 900-3000 sq ft, depending upon the module chosen. The return on investment is 30 per cent, while the expected break-even period is 24-30 months.

With 32 franchise restaurants across the country, The Yellow Chilli is also looking for aggressive pan-India expansion. Commercial markets, high streets and malls are the preferred locations for its roll out. A total investment of Rs 1 crore along with an area of 2,500-3,000 sq ft is required to obtain the brand's franchise. The return on investment is 20 per cent, while the expected break-even period is 2-3 years.

However, ImagiNation Edutainment India, the franchisee for KidZania India, will launch its first centre in Mumbai in the second quarter of 2013. Following KidZania's Mumbai launch will be KidZania centres in the National Capital Region and Bangalore. The primary consideration for opening a KidZania centre in a city is that it should have a minimum population of 10 million. In the current scheme of things post the initial phase of launching in three locations, the brand will look at phase II which will be post 2016.

A growing need of people for service brands and increasing consciousness among them to take services from organised brands have led to the emergence of many low cost service concepts that opted for the franchise route for the expansion of their concepts. An article based on low cost service franchise concepts, has been done in the Issue Focus. This article talks about various service-related sectors that offer low cost business opportunities, including food and beverages, travel, florists, financial services and education, etc.

The Food and beverages sector offers the most successful and popular formats for low cost businesses. The kiosk formats of coffee brands, juice bars, fast food kiosks and so on are offering the best deals in franchise business. The low cost models of courier companies allow courier brands to expand rapidly while giving high returns to the franchisees. Blue Dart Express, DTDC Courier, Overnite Express and Blazeflash Couriers, are some of the significant players in the industry offering low investment franchises to prospective franchisees.  Abacus education is another low cost franchise opportunity that has gained popularity over the years. Genius Abacus and Vedic Maths, SIP Academy, Maxmind Abacus & Vedic Academy, BrainOBrain, etc., are some of the franchise players in this sector that offer low cost franchise business opportunities. Recognising the growing popularity and success of organised florists, significant brands like Fern 'N' Petals are offering low cost franchise opportunities to aspirants. The investment for such formats varies from Rs 8-10 lakh depending on the size and location of the outlet.  Aspirants having an interest in arranging trips and travelling programs and are efficient in organising stays and accommodations in hotels but have low investment budgets can explore franchise players like Makemytrip.com, Arzoo.com, Travel port, Travo (I-Nova Group), and Travel E-Point, etc. Franchise investment for such brands ranges from Rs 40,000 and may go up to Rs 10 lakh. Franchise companies like Sharekhan Ltd, Motilal Oswal Securities Ltd (MOSL), SKI Capital Services Ltd, Ventura Securities Ltd, Sykes & Ray Equities (I) Ltd, the Wellindia Group and CFS Financial Services Pvt. Ltd are offering low cost benefits to aspirants. The investment required is Rs 5 lakh for such brands, including a refundable deposit.

Home based franchising in India

There is a growing trend towards work from home opportunities, these days. Individuals seeking liberty in their careers and better work-life stability usually find home-based businesses more appealing. In contrast to spending long working hours in offices away from home, work from home business opportunities do not keep them away from home for long hours. Also it gives ample time to spend some quality time with family and children. Thus starting a home-based venture is a good idea. Explore some interesting and potentially lucrative home-based franchises that let one earn handsomely without leaving the comfort of one's home in the third section of Issue Focus. Low cost home businesses are a perfect choice for any home-based entrepreneur, having flair for teaching and a true entrepreneurial spirit.

Bottom line

It is time for all aspiring entrepreneurs seeking low cost business opportunities to explore a wide range of low cost business opportunities available across industries. Take up a franchise of any low cost business and that suits your interests and accomplishes your long cherished dream of becoming a business owner.

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