In an exclusive interview with Restaurant India, Narendra Malhotra, CEO, Oriental Cuisines shares their expansion plan in India.
How people in your market consume food?
The consumption pattern across the country is the same, except for Chennai market where people prefer to eat their meals early. Hence, lunch offers a good business here in comparison to the other parts of India. The situation for dinner is similar and we witness an early crowd in our restaurants too.
Otherwise, Indians are very experimental and love to try out something new when it comes to cuisines. Foodies are very conscious and expect a good value return for their money spent on food.
What is mostly preferred by the customers, online orders/ take away or dine-in?
In recent times, the industry has witnessed a gradual shift to the digital spectrum. The e-commerce space is booming and sales have picked up on the online platforms; in fact doubling over the weekends starting Friday onwards. However, with a known fact that Indians love eating and their high willingness to explore something new constantly, the dine-in concept remains popular amongst a vast majority, as they enjoy spending family time in a completely different ambience.
What is the real-estate market scenario? Which according to you is mostly preferred in the region-highstreets/malls? Why?
Currently, the commercial space faces a serious threat due to the rise in real estate prices and the scarcity of business properties. The clientele attracted by malls and stand alone properties are entirely different. Malls have a significant advantage of spacious car park facilities but a disadvantage of lesser footfalls during weekdays. However, high streets have moderate business across the week and the rentals are comparatively higher than malls.
What does the growth look like for you in the region? How is F&B market growing over the years?
We have almost doubled in terms of turnover, profitability and no of outlets in the last two years. Our growth engines have been The French Loaf - Confectionery & Bakery and Wangs Kitchen – the Casual Dining chain. We are one of the largest company-owned bakery chains in India with 55 plus outlets and still growing. With our recent venture into the franchising route, we are planning to not only expand both The French Loaf and Wangs Kitchen rigorously but also our other brands.
With regards to the overall F&B sector we see a tremendous growth, which has created deeper pockets. India’s growth is seen not merely in big cities but also in smaller towns as it offers immense potential. The sector is also booming as the new middle class is wishing to taste different cuisines and also due to the youth looking to emulate the western lifestyle. Thus, F&B brands have an opportunity to consolidate in the metros and also foray into smaller cities and towns.
Are you planning to take IPO?
As of now there aren’t any such plans for taking up an IPO.
How do you work for your brand? How is it different from others in the same race?
We are a professionally managed company and personally my leadership style is hands on. We focus a lot on good quality, hygienic food and service. Store Managers set this as business principles and are responsible for local store marketing and P&L. We believe that this business requires a hand on style of working and you can’t let go at anytime.
What is your biggest achievement so far?
We have proven that both The French Loaf and Wangs Kitchen is a viable and expandable business model.
What is your expansion plan in the region?
Like last year we are planning to expand both The French Loaf & Wangs Kitchen. The only strategic change we have taken very recently is the franchise route. We are now opening our other brands for franchising too.
Are you planning to take e-commerce route? What is the current scenario of e-commerce business in food retail?
Yes, we have already started capitalizing the online space. We are taking our business to the next level through e-commerce. The business scenario has changed and today’s consumer is always-on, digitally connected and highly tech-savvy.