No brand wants a strong partner: CRPL’s Vikram Bakshi
Connaught Plaza Restaurants MD Vikram Bakshi on the McDonald’s controversy
Vikram Bakshi, the embattled joint venture partner of burger chain McDonald’s India Pvt. Ltd, has been fighting with the global parent for over four years. He says he’s keen to hang up his boots and pass on his business to his three daughters after settling the dispute with the US chain. Edited excerpts from an interview:
There are a few non-operational McDonald’s outlets in Delhi currently. Are you planning to reopen them?
Of course. We are working to obtain the licences. If things go right and we are able to see eye-to-eye with the partner, we are hopeful that we will be able to reopen them soon. In the current circumstances, I feel that both McDonald’s and I need to take a step back and think about the brand, and see what is beneficial. I will meet them more than halfway to make sure that the brand flourishes from here on.
What, according to you went wrong and triggered this fight?
I strongly feel that in some way, it was my doing because no brand wants a strong partner. It is an unequal partnership. Most brands would prefer a subservient partner than a strong partner. They want partners who would listen to them all the time. We, as entrepreneurs, are used as mere vehicles to get into the market and to establish market share. But that may not be entirely true, else we would not have been this successful in India. We were able to push through a lot of changes that helped us get nearer to the Indian consumer. We have a very loyal following. With a KFC on one side and a Burger King on the other, we still outdo all.
Given a chance, would you have done it differently?
I look back and I think there is maybe a tinge of regret. But I don’t think I would give away what I learnt. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Given a chance, the only thing I would have wanted is this to end in a nicer way. The last four years have been very heavy on my family. There are huge disruptions that have taken place. We have compromised a lot. I haven’t been able to spend time with my family. Even if this was supposed to happen, it should have happened in a more graceful manner. I have been a partner and nobody can take that away from me.
Where do you see this fight going?
I am still hoping somebody in McDonald’s wakes up to the destruction that the brand is going through and we could sit across the table to find a way to close this fight. If that doesn’t happen, I don’t have an option but to wait for the final judgements. At the end of the day, it’s all about what is left of the brand.
What is your plan after this is over?
I will no longer get into the heavy operations of any company. I don’t want a set role. I have three bright daughters and now, I want them to take the lead. My job is to make them successful and to make sure that my knowledge and ideas are passed along.
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