Unnat Varma, GM, Pizza Hut India at Yum! Brands is responsible for running the Pizza Hut outlets in India. In an exclusive conversation with Restaurant India, Varma talks about his plans for expansion of the brand in India.
Being a global brand, how do you decide on your partners?
We are a highly reputed and global brand and this calls for two things- one we are of a scale, so we have to choose partners who can give us scale which means they have capital to invest and they have very strong organisation culture to give similar values and the work culture we talk about. So we need partners who can build such type of organisation- build team, sustain team and grow the business. Second, we look for partners who are committed to the long-term call and are about food safety aspects that we follow in the whole world.
Who is responsible for choosing the right locations when it comes to opening of stores?
In our case, the franchisee partners runs the business so they are responsible for building up the organisation and searching for location. They build partnerships with the retailer, mall developer, builder or a developer. One very strong criterion that we believe in is what should be the location for different kinds of towns. And we have certain parameters on approving this.
How many restaurants Pizza Hut you are planning to open in India?
India is going to be the largest market for consumer in terms of consumption by 2030. We believe that we are sitting on a national opportunity. And we see a potential of 1,000 of restaurants in India.
At Pizza Hut, we have grown to about 400 stores so far in last 15 years. But now, we are planning to double the stores in next 5 years opening around 800-1,000 stores by 2020.
How difficult or easy it is maintaining cordial relations with your partners?
If your selection criteria is very strong and you have taken time to choose the right partner, then running the business is less challenging. I think in that we are fortunate, we have fantastic franchising partners who are very strategic. So, we don’t discuss and debate much on the relationship aspect.
On the other hand, if you have a concept where you have a multiple number of small franchisees and with the diversity of the franchisee partners, that’s where you need to focus more time on building relations.
Which are the cities where we can see Pizza Hut growing?
We are growing in Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad and we are also getting into state capitals and beyond. In the last three months, we have opened outlets at Gaya, Alwar, Silchar, Malda and any city which has a population of about 3-5 lakh will have a Pizza Hut store.