Boston: India’s billion-plus population and the lure of disposable incomes continue to attract global brands. The world’s third largest chicken quick service restaurant (QSR) chain, Atlanta–based Church’s Chicken, with revenues of over $1.2 billion, will launch their ‘Texas Chicken’ brand in Hyderabad next month.
“We are expanding and are very upbeat about India”, said president and chief executive officer, Harsha Agadi, speaking exclusively to Livemint from Atlanta.
“In the next ten years we will have at least 300 outlets on ground in India”. By early next year, the company, which has operations in 19 countries including Russia , the UK and Kuwait, will also open its stores in Malaysia, Singapore, Dubai and Syria.
“No brand with seriously global aspirations can become successful without a strong presence in India and China and I am convinced that consumption in India will soon overtake that in China. For us it is the most lucrative market in the world”, Agadi said.
Church’s Chicken, owned by global private equity firm Arcapita Inc., will bring to Indian tables, its signature spicy bone-in fried chicken in addition to the all-new vegetarian menu with Indian staples of Paneer and other fried veggie snacks.
To drive its India operations, the company has signed on with the Andhra Pradesh-based poultry group Srinivasa Hatcheries Ltd which will be its master franchisee for the state and also its chicken supplier for the initial phase where it will launch outlets across the state. “Our studies have shown that Andhra Pradesh is the largest consumer of chicken in India , much more than even Punjab and we intend to tap the demand for this ”, Agadi said.
Skyrocketing real estate prices and lease rentals across Indian is proving to be the stumbling block for retailers . The Mumbai-bred Agadi who has been in the US for a quarter of a century, says the company is looking for franchisees/partners who have access to real estate and said among the string of companies it has held discussions with about potential business partnerships is the Mumbai-based Future group.
The company is largely operated on a stand-alone outlet format in the US but in India it will use a combination of high street, in-mall, and multiplex format, Agadi said. “In cities where real estate is not a problem, we definitely plan to have stand-alone outlets and drive-through options”.
Church’s Chicken is the latest entrant into the fast-growing quick service restaurant business in the country which now has a line-up of global brands including the world’s largest fast food restaurant chain, McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken. South African chicken chain, Nando’s arrived in India last year and is now in expansion mode.
Church’s Chicken has managed to remain unaffected by recession and inflation. As premium brands report a steep decline in performance- Starbucks announced the closure of 600 stores last week, the company is reporting positive same store sales.
This is largely because it has characterized itself as a no frills brand –simple stores, tight control on supply chain and maximizing available retail space. “We sell two pieces of fried chicken for 99 cents today, as we did 40 years ago ”. In India too, the company will position itself as a no frills brand that will offer high value at a cost competitive to what others in the business are offering.
“As we see it, Texas Chicken should be a place where even the junior most college-goer can afford to hang out every day after class. And yes, our stores will offer something for consumers of every age and every culture”, said Agadi , before signing off.