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Feb, 04 2014

Grabbing a bigger slice in pizza business

Why did Atulya Mittal, Director, Avan Projects Pvt. Ltd acquired majority stakes in Om Pizza and Eats, (India franchisee for Papa John's) recently? In an interview with Sharmila Das, he discusses the raison d'être for investing in the booming pizza indus

Congratulations for your recent acquisition of Papa John's India franchise operation. So, how many Papa John's stores you own now and what are the region's for which you own the development rights?

Thanks. This is a really exciting venture for us. With our investment in Om Pizza, we have 20 Papa John's stores across India already with the development rights for the entire region.

Prior to Avan, you were associated with Citigroup Inc and Ispat Industries Ltd, that was merged with JSW Steel Ltd., what was the rationale behind entering into pizza business?

Moving from financial services to manufacturing and now to food services is an exciting career path for me. The idea first came to me at the business school when a friend and I entered a business plan to launch an Italian QSR format in India. We realised then that the organised food services sector is under penetrated compared to developed economies and even other developing markets like China. As our country continues to grow, there will be an ever increasing demand for food services. The pizza business is exciting because pizza is well established as a category in consumers' minds and Papa John's is a fantastic brand with a high quality product to offer Indian consumers.

What would be your retail strategy for Papa John's in India and what are your expansion plans?

We are already present in Mumbai, Pune, Baroda, NCR, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad. Our strategy now will be to increase density of our stores so that more customers can experience our product offering.

Apart from promotional strategies, what other innovations we can expect to see in Papa John's India operation.

Papa John's motto is "Better Ingredients, Better Pizza" and we live that motto because we love the product and we do everything to ensure customer delight.

Pizza is a major contributor to the growth story of India's QSR chains. What could be the next potential? Kindly give your reasons.

We're focused on the pizza market but looking around we are seeing a lot of movement and excitement about the burgeoning coffee segment in India. We have seen the entry of Starbucks and even McDonalds has started a McCafe format alongside its traditional burger shops. Additionally, India has a limited number of Mexican food chains and maybe with the entry of Taco Bell we will see momentum pick up in that category.

India is known as a price sensitive market and the present sluggish economy is also giving more reasons to consumers to shy away from spending. How do you think, Papa John's would work towards this? What 'value for money' choices you are going to offer?

We already offer a number of value choices such as discounts, free sides and buy one get one free on a number of our products. However, promotions can only support a high quality product and in this area we are very comfortable knowing that we offer the best quality product. The key is to get our message out more effectively to customers who may not have tried the brand yet.

 

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