Hard Rock Cafe firm to launch fast food chain Panda Express in India by March

JSM is also hoping to add two more outlets of Hard Rock Café, which contributes 40-45% to the company’s overall revenues

JSM clocked a revenue of Rs200 crore in the year ended March 2016.
JSM clocked a revenue of Rs200 crore in the year ended March 2016.

New Delhi: JSM Corp. Pvt. Ltd, the company that runs Hard Rock Cafe and California Pizza Kitchen in India, is all set to launch American-Chinese fast food chain Panda Express in the country by February-March 2017.

“We will open two Panda Express outlets in Bangalore next year,” said Jay Singh, co-founder and executive director, JSM. Panda Express operates over 1,800 outlets across six countries.

Currently, JSM has 26 outlets and six brands in its portfolio, which include restaurants such as Shiro, The Big Kahuna, Ginger Tiger and Asilo, a rooftop bar in Mumbai. “We will soon introduce a new restaurant format as well,” said Singh, refusing to divulge further details.

Celebrating 10 years of Hard Rock Cafe in India, the company is also hoping to add two more outlets to the international chain which contributes almost 40-45% to JSM’s overall revenues. JSM clocked a revenue of Rs200 crore in the year ended March 2016.

However, Singh added that the growth has slowed for the past few months.

Rajat Wahi, partner and head (consumer markets) at consulting firm KPMG, agreed that restaurants have been facing consumption challenge since a few months. “However, the sentiment in the market is changing and consumption might improve in the times to come. The restaurateurs are trying to figure out the problems behind consumption decline,” he said.

Earlier in April, JSM had announced that it was planning to raise Rs200 crore to expand the number of current outlets in India and to bring in new international brands. However, the company has put its plans on hold due to negativity around the food sector, said Singh.

“We were trying to raise funds almost a year ago but we had to pull out our plans because of unfavourable economic environment,” said Singh, adding that the company is currently focusing on introducing new restaurant formats in the country.

According to a study ‘VCEdge Funding Insights’ by News Corp. VCCircle, investments in food and agriculture businesses hit a five-year low in 2016.

The food and agriculture sectors have so far seen a total investment of $250 million in 2016, a 78% decline from 2015 (full year). Total fund inflow touched a five-year low after the sector received $523 million of investments in 2014, $406 million in 2013 and $435 million in 2012, according to the study.

There have been only 62 deals in the sector in 2016, as compared with 153 in 2015, the study said.

The Indian food and beverage industry is expected to reach Rs3.8 trillion in sales by 31 March 2017, expanding at a rate of 24%, according to a 2015 report by consulting firm Grant Thornton India and lobby group Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci).

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