In an exclusive interaction with Restaurant India, Shikha Nath, Brand Director, Copper Chimney shares her expansion plans for global market.
India is the fastest-growing market for global franchisees. What is the reason that franchised restaurants are a big hit in the market?
The cosmopolitan Indian is eager to explore new tastes. Eating out without any occasion is the trend as we see food lovers are more than willing to experiment– India has a large youth population which has higher frequency of eating out and this has lead to the success of global franchised restaurants. Further, India requires a strong local knowledge and operating expertise, therefore International brands prefer to franchise to local partners rather than invest and open stores themselves.
Copper Chimney is known for its heritage. What made you enter into the franchisee business?
As the brand Copper Chimney built its reputation, the trust that our customers and partners had with the consistency of our brand in the food and service space, was instrumental in building up the franchise business. As an organization, we stand for very clear business principles and look only for the right partners; this approach has enabled to find the right likeminded people in our franchise business across the country. For us, the franchise business enabled us to work with these likeminded individuals or corporate to further build the brand, and therefore as such we currently have two large franchise partners for our Copper Chimney brand in India, namely Pan India Food Solutions (co-owned by Everstone Capital) who is a franchisee of multiple stores, and CC Fine Foods (co-owned by Mahadevan, Founder of Oriental Cuisines) in the South.
You are one of the pioneers in setting up restaurant franchisee system in India. What are some of the franchisee trends that you are seeing in India?
The franchise business model is well suited for promising entrepreneurs and for those with a passion for the food business. We believe that over time, once franchisors build up the right structures with their franchisees, there will be the growth of larger multi-unit franchisees. Franchisees today are turning from investors into owner-operators, which will help the growth and success of the franchise business even further.
What are the criteria that you look into before signing a franchisee deal?
Apart from studying the financial backgrounds of the prospective franchisee, we ensure that the franchisee has a passion to drive the business with the expertise in conducting his business in his local market. The commitment and background of the franchisee goes a long way in our selection process.
How many franchised outlet are there under Copper Chimney brand today? And, what is the expansion plan?
Currently for the Copper Chimney brand, we have 13 franchised outlets in India. Internationally we operate 2 franchised outlets in Kuwait and have signed a 5 outlet franchise deal in the UAE. We are now focusing on multiple company owned stores in India in the near future, along with further structured growth in both domestic and international strategic markets that we have identified.
As you have launched many new brands and formats catering to the new age customers? How is the response so far?
Our other verticals within our corporation own and operate numerous other formats, which we have been able to scale significantly and profitably over the past few years. Each vertical team continues to remain focused on its core brand and is continuing to scale them up nationally.
How are you trying to engage with customers at your cafes?
Our café business is part of our larger F&B concession vertical as well as travel business vertical. Each vertical conducts a variety of activities, innovations and strategic marketing initiatives over the year through which we engage with our customers.
Copper Chimney’s success in India is remarkable. Any lesson that it could give to other markets where you are entering?
Apart from our legendary food, proprietary ingredient control, and consistent quality, we have been successful in scaling up our standard operating process which translates into operational consistency making it easier to enter new markets. We bring a strong and intricate understanding of Indian cuisine, its ingredients and unique flavors; this enables us to tweak and adapt our brand in a well researched manner to each market or region. We combine this with our strong operating processes to ensure we build up a powerful model for our franchisees across locations.
You are one of the few brands in India who is known for promoting travel food? Tell us something about the business?
Our travel retail vertical arm, Travel Food Services, is the largest and strongest player in the sector, with over 200+ locations across airports, railways and highways. We work with the best local, national and international brands to bring them into this space, through the franchise route.
As your major focus lies on this business. How about franchising in this space?
The travel business contributes roughly 50 per cent to our overall system-wide revenues. We franchise numerous brands across the country, and are a preferred partner of choice for all these brands as they are building up their presence nationally.
What is your expansion plan?
Each business head has set in place an expansion plan to scale up their respective brands and/or verticals nationally and/or internationally. Ultimately our focus is to deliver high quality, consistent and innovative food and beverage experiences through our large family of passionate team members, and we hope to keep expanding to continue to deliver on this mission.