An exclusive interview with Michael Woida, Senior VP, International at CKE Restaurants.
California-based burger chain Carl’s Jr known for its authentic American and premium-quality charbroiled burgers and freshly prepared, flavourful menu is entering India by January 2015 in partnership with Sam Chopra led CybizCorp. Michael Woida, Senior Vice President, International at CKE Restaurants, in a conversation with Nusra, outlined his strategy for the Indian market and the reason for choosing CybizCorp as franchisee partner.
Considering the global trend, don't you think you are entering India a bit late? Or do you think it is the right time?
We believe that it is an opportune time to enter India for several reasons; India is now experiencing a renaissance of sorts in the introduction and exposure of western QSR and casual dining brands that are dramatically contrasting the one or two legacy QSR players that we’re early entrants. The young, heavy QSR users in India, having been introduced to QSR in the late 90’s and early 2000’s are now seeking a more sophisticated, mature, and premium option for their lunch and dinner occasion that still offers value and affordability. They’re ‘graduating’ in a way from the venues they frequented as children to venues and flavor options that are more closely aligned to their current lifestyles and income.
You are already present in markets like Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Denmark, Ecuador, New Zealand and the Bahamas. Why India so lately?
Our India entry was strategically timed to meet Carl’s Jr expansion timelines into key developed markets. For long, our team was researching and understanding the taste of Indian consumer and market as it contemplated the most effective menu conversion and enhancement from a premium beef hamburger restaurant to a credible quick casual restaurant in India that offers premium Veg offerings as well as unique chicken options (No Beef).
Why CybizCorp as a master franchise partner? You must have been in talks with others?
CKE has been prioritized India research and menu development over the identification of specific franchise partners - once completed; CKE has engaged several franchise candidates that have the business acumen, infrastructure and real estate network that could effectively develop an identified territory within India. CKE selected CybizCorp based on its tremendous success operating and franchising in the real property sector as well as its food & beverage consulting practice and its existing infrastructure of business professionals.
Brands like Mc Donald’s, Johnny Rockets and Dunkin’ Donuts are already here. What strategies you are likely to pursue to get a share in a tough competitive market?
First of all, we believe that in relative global terms, India does not offer any unique competitive challenges. We in over 70 years of operation has been a favourite place for premium ‘Char-Grilled’ burgers and chicken sandwiches using the best quality ingredients with a history of best-in-class product innovation, unique service systems, all-you-can-drink beverage bars, and contemporary and comfortable in-restaurant décor’s catering to our target market.
What segment of market you are focusing most in India and why?
Our communication, menu development, and restaurant are designed specifically to be the ultimate fast food burger destination for aspirational 18-34 year old young hungry guys and girls with the disposable to frequent QSR venues on a regular bases and are seeking a premium lunch or dinner experience.
What are you doing to make your product suitable for local customers?
Our India menu will consist of both Carl’s Jr favourites including Char-Grilled chicken sandwiches, side items, and desserts as well as a an assortment of All-Veg burgers specifically custom crafted for the India market. Our char-grilled cooking process will also allow for Carl’s Jr to offer non-deep fried burger and chicken options that will have both new and familiar flavors.
Tell us about your operation in the Indian market, number of outlets and expansion plans?
Carl’s Jr, through its exclusive franchise developer will be developing 100 restaurants initially in North and Western India and CKE envision growing to 1,000 restaurants in India over time given the growing QSR market size that exists.
What will be your strategy on the products that you will offer in India?
To offer great tasting, premium burger, sides and desserts to satisfy our young and aspirational consumer. We will source and offer the best quality ingredients in its innovative burgers and other menu items with very strong emphasis on a reliable supply chain, the highest levels of food safety, and our guests’ assurance of the absolute quality in the segregated preparation of its Veg and Non-Veg products.