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Australian-based, The Chocolate Room is an exquisite chain of chocolate cafes in India. Vikas Panjabi, Co-founder & MD, The Chocolate Room, talks about his expansion plans
Please tell us about the brand and its presence?
Our brand is all about creating and spreading a new chocolate culture in India. We are the first chocolate café brand and are using authentic traditional Italian crockery. We are present pan-India in eight countries, 14-plus states, 50-plus cities with 200- plus cafes.
What is the USP of your brand?
We are a unique chocolate cafe serving more than 100- plus chocolate beverages and desserts to our customers, and trying to create a new chocolate culture in India. And along with dine-in, our brand focuses on 30 per cent-plus takeaway business of chocolates and bakery items to make it safe for the investors.
Which business model do you operate through?
We operate through the franchise model, and the company-owned stores model. In franchising, we also have express, kiosk, compact and standalone models. And in franchising, we give FOCO operating model options to investors as well.
What made you choose franchising?
Not coming from a business background, we had to create our own road map and there would have been no better way than franchising to increase the visibility and brand image, and simultaneously increase our footprints across pan-India. So we decided to grow through the franchising route. We noticed that the franchising industry was picking up in India, and thought it was the right time to expand through franchising.
What kind of partners do you want to associate with and what benefits the partner would avail?
We are looking for young and passionate entrepreneurs, who are looking to enter into new business ventures and ready to learn the art of chocolate. And want to partner with established hospitality and F&B groups to share and gain the knowledge.
What other training and support will you offer to your partners?
We provide online and offline training to all our franchises from the time a franchise agreement is signed. From HR support of finding staff to getting suppliers introduced, organizing licenses, setting up operations, finding the right location for setting up cafe, to onsite training of staff which includes customer service, product and IT training, hygiene and grooming knowledge etc.
What is your growth plan?
We plan to have 500 cafes by 2020 and would want to double our numbers in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore.