In an exclusive interview to Restaurant India, Alpha Maiava, Franchise Sales & International Growth, Franchise Department, Sumo Sushi & Bento, the casual dining Japanese restaurant in Dubai shares their expansion plan into the Indian market and the cities
When can we see Sumo Sushi & Bento opening their first outlet in India?
If everything works out well, Insha’Allah we will be opening our first outlet in 2016. We are here in the process of identifying and selecting prospective franchisees as per our business plan in India. As per our business plan, we will divide India into three regions and each region we are looking for ten franchisees and a master franchisee.
What are the requirements you are looking into a franchisee partner?
The first and foremost criteria are that the partner must have the knowledge of the food industry and we are also open to individual investors who can invest in the food online.
Tell us something about Sumo Sushi & Bento’s operations into the global market?
At this point Dubai is our top selling country mainly because of its origin followed by Bahrain and Oman. We have recently got the license to operate in the US market. And now we are the first Japanese restaurant from Middle East to enter into the US.
How many outlets do you have presently? What is your expansion plan?
At present we are operating 13 outlets which will be 14 by the end of this year. We are also planning to take the number count to 17 by next year adding three more outlets in 2016. And then we will be adding 2-3 outlets every year for the next five years.
What are the numbers that you are targeting for Indian market?
In total India has a capacity to operate 30 outlets in next five years starting from Delhi-NCR, Jaipur, Mumbai and all the main cities. We have done our research in India with the help of Franchise India to understand the Indian market- which are the booming town, do we need to change our menu-If yes, how much of it, logistics because we deliver a fresh dish and it has to be fresh on daily basis so we had to look for local suppliers. So, in general we are looking for 30 outlets, 10 outlets per region.
What are the challenges of operating a Japanese restaurant?
The first challenge that we go through is the product knowledge. Hence, the first thing we started doing was putting enough of pictures with the menu, enough customers to make a profit, supply chain and the communication on how to touch all these points to the desired customers are other challenges.
What is your view about Indian cuisine? Who do you see as your target in the Indian market?
Indian cuisine is one of the strongest cuisines in the world. Anywhere in this world you will see there is sunshine, there is an Indian restaurant. Whether it is authentic or contemporary it is an Indian restaurant. So we are always after the young and upcoming Indian, the world travelled people as technology has given this country a lifeline unlike before. And because they are knowledgeable, they are willing to try and experiment.
While entering into the Indian market, will you be serving the authentic Japanese cuisine or you will be tweaking the menu according to the local taste?
We are a casual dining chain, a family friendly chain with affordable menu. While we will always look for the alteration of the menu, what the local customers like. We have already moved sensitive items like Beef and Pork from our menu because the Hindu and the Muslim population have a huge population in the country. We started preparing for India last year. We created a menu that is all vegetarian.