In an exclusive interview to Restaurant India, Ranjit Talwar, Country Head, Subway India talks about Subway's growth in Indian market.
India is the fastest-growing market for Subway in terms of store expansion. But, I feel that there are certain locations which are not performing well. What could be the reason?
SUBWAY®is popular with customers and entrepreneurs across the country who identify it both as a purveyor of healthier food and a promising business opportunity. It is difficult to specifically comment on any one location in terms of performance because different locations have different economic parameters leading to different performance ratios.
As you are placed under premium healthy food segment. What health trends do you see in India?
Indian consumers are consciously making healthier eating choices and are more open to exploring food offerings and brands which meet these criteria. Customisation is another factor which they often look for, when deciding what to eat. Rising awareness on the co-relation between food and wellness, exposure to global cuisines and food trends, paucity of time owing to professional commitments are further expected to reinforce this trend. SUBWAY® is happy to be able to cater to this demand for healthier food in terms of offering its customers a healthier and freshness focused menu which also gives them the freedom to choose and customise their food, as per their liking and preference.
Subway is globally known for its franchisee system. What are some of the franchisee trends that you are seeing in India?
SUBWAY®’s franchise based business model has struck a positive cord with aspiring Indian entrepreneurs from various parts of the country. We have been receiving regular queries from businessmen, entrepreneurs who are keen to take up the SUBWAY® franchise. A number of these originate from non-metro locations which underscores the promise that franchising holds in terms of business profitability and growth. Rising incomes, global exposure to international brands, a growing customer base which is young, well educated, professionally settled and willing to try new things is prompting a number of brands to take up the franchising route for business expansion. A good economic scenario, positive business environment backed by a progressive policy regime would provide a further fillip to this model. SUBWAY®for instance has recently inaugurated restaurants in Gwalior, Bhilai and Darjeeling. We are also targeting new markets like Aligarh, Ambala, Guntur, Rohtak, Vijayawada, Ujjain, Aizawl and Puri for expansion through the franchising route.
What are the criteria that you look into before signing a franchisee deal?
A potential franchisee should be someone who is excited about the brand and believes in its promise. Having an active, motivated, hands-on approach to doing business is another key requirement.
How many franchised outlet are there in India today? And, what is the expansion plan?
SUBWAY®currently has 560-plus restaurants operating in more than 70 Indian cities. All SUBWAY® restaurants are owned and operated by SUBWAY®franchisees. For the ongoing year, the brand is focused on expanding its footprint in metro and non-metro locations while strengthening its presence in existing cities. We are also looking at providing a live fresh solution at non-traditional locations like Airports, Railway Stations, Hospitals, Large Corporates etc. by expanding our footprint therein.
How are you trying to engage with customers at your restaurants?
SUBWAY®is committed to providing its customers with a great eating-out experience while giving them the power of choice when it comes to choosing healthier and fresh food which is prepared in front of them. In addition to customising its menu to suit the Indian palate, SUBWAY® has ensured that around 50 per cent of the brand’s menu offerings in India are vegetarian. We have also been innovating on international flavours by having introduced Teriyaki submarine sandwiches (subs) earlier this year and Peri Peri subs which are being currently promoted. Both these products have received great customer reviews. Additionally, our everyday value offers like Sub-Of-The-Day, SUBWAY®’s new snacking products SubWraps available at an attractive entry level price point, further help strengthen the brand’s customer connect and engagement. We also continue to engage with our customer-base through lifestyle focused events and campaigns, movie collaborations and by bettering service across all SUBWAY® restaurants in the country.
Subway’s success in India is remarkable. Any lesson that it could give to other markets where it is struggling?
Currently, SUBWAY®has 44,777 restaurants in 112 countries. Catering to local taste and preferences as well as the freedom to customize SUBWAY® products would continue to reinforce SUBWAY®’s growth momentum in any location across the globe.
As brands are going towards digital and online ordering. What can we see happening at Subway?
SUBWAY® is always looking at new ways to delight customers and reach even more people. We’re excited for the move towards digital and online ordering and hope to have some more news for India customers in the near future.
What will be your contribution and growth sketch for India as a India Head?
We are excited to continue to grow the brand in India - I’m committed to pushing the brand forward in the country and with a great group of committed franchisees, we are looking forward to continued success in the future.
As you come from Subway Global. What are the global practices that you’ll adopt here in India?
Eating fresh has always been a priority at SUBWAY® and we work hard across the board to provide all our customers with the freshest ingredients available. SUBWAY® India is making continuous improvements to our menu and offering plenty of fresh veggies – it is what we are famous for. The core of our business is in providing customers with the freshest dining options and subs made right in front of them at our SUBWAY® restaurants. That practice will continue to prevail at all our restaurants around the world.
What is your expansion plan?
SUBWAY®currently has 560-plus restaurants operating in more than 70 Indian cities. For the ongoing year, we are planning to add around 120 new SUBWAY® restaurants in non-metro locations and are also aiming to expand the brand’s presence in non-traditional locations such as Airports, Railway Stations, Hospitals, Large Corporates etc.