Exclusively talking to Restaurant India, Andrew H McNair, Regional General Manager, Middle East, Shawarma Xpress, shares about the companyâ€™s expansion plan in the Indian market.
Shawarma Xpress, is a Quick Service Restaurant concept that began operations with its first outlet in 2001, the first Drive thru in 2006 and establishing presence in the Prestigious Bahrain City Centre Mall in 2008. Founded by two brothers- Saleh and Firas Al Khor, this innovative concept was developed after careful planning, intensive market research and valuable experience gathered within the Quick Service Industry. Being passionate about the Shawarma, they identified the niche market for the Launch of Shawarma Xpress.
You are operating five outlets in India. How has been the journey so far and what is you expansion plan?
The brand is gradually growing in India. We are operating five restaurants of which we have opened three in last couple of months which are successfully running now. We will move from master franchise model to sub franchise where the people with less capital can also work with us supported by our India-based master franchise one. Our plan is to get around 50 restaurants opened in the next five years in the north-eastern region of India. Moreover, we are planning to move to the southern and western region.
Who are your targeted customers in all the regions of India?
The customers we are looking at are the broad and mid range of income group. We have increased our range so that we have a lot more vegetable product. We have now a 50-50 range of vegetable and non-vegetable products. Predominantly, the targeted age group is 18-45 years.
You mentioned that you want to expand your business in the north-eastern region of India. Can you name some cities?
We want to enter various regions of north India. We will probably move out from the centre, which is Delhi, and will try to move out in the nearest region to Delhi expanding further to other cities and states.
As the real estate or property prices are on a great hike day by day. What is your target location, the mall or the high street?
We will probably look for the mixed location. We would normally look at the broad spread of the mall and the high street. The mall has an advantage in some ways that it is has a smaller unit with a concentrated customer flow; however, it has also a restricted customer flow because malls close early. In the right high street at right prices it can be more profitable as it trades later than the mall so it has high potential. So we will look for the broad spread of areas.
What is your unique marketing strategy to place your brand in the Indian market?
As everybody knows that the Shawarma product is an Arabian product with a little difference. It is a ham product which one can eat in the restaurant as well as on the go. We have certain different products, which we put into it and that is where we are different. We are not a burger chain, not even a chicken chain, we are totally a different product and this is our only marketing strategy.
Who do you see as your competitor in the Indian market?
Today, there are a number of Shawarma restaurants in India. We don’t take any other restaurant or restaurant chains as our competitor, instead we concentrate very strongly to sell our product through counter system. Certainly the Shawarma business has a bad reputation worldwide in terms of hygiene, but we strongly concentrate on high levels of customer service and hygiene. We create the best possible hygiene standards and thus we sell the best quality product.
From where do you get the best quality supply of the ingredients and other products you need?
We buy all our products from the Indian market. Logistically, it is not possible to bring product from abroad, moreover, our idea is to try and support the economy of the country where we are in. Some products are made from the center kitchen of our master franchise while others are from some reputed food companies. Everything we buy is certified with an ISO and other higher standards.
Would you like to share some numbers about the total business done so far by all the five outlets together?
The business is growing day by day. It is a bit difficult for me to get them in numbers.