Amit Burman joined Dabur in early 20s when the promoter family was still managing the business. Burman began his career in the Industrial Engineering Department where he was responsible for induction of machinery, method improvements, manpower reduction and improving product packaging. “I was working with different teams trying to understand each division. But it was a learning experience and we were always encouraged to think as entrepreneurs and set up own ventures,” shares Burman who has brought the concept of packaged juice in India. Time passes by and it was in 2001 he started Lite Bite Foods and ventured into the organized food retail business. Today, after running multiple concepts and over 180 plus restaurants in different countries Burman is all set to raise IPO next year. Here are the excerpts from the interview:
What was the whole idea venturing into food retail business?
I saw a significant opportunity in the F&B services category of organized retail. While there were a lot of big business houses looking at organized retail as a market, everybody seemed to have given F&B retail a miss. This sub-segment shares many of the same high-growth attractive aspects of other organized retail segments, but is far more fragmented with mom-and-pop stores dominating this landscape. While there are a number of new entrants in this area, the opportunity to create a dominant pan-India position in this niche still exists. And as I mentioned, a number of larger players entering this space were coming from broader retail and/or property development backgrounds and we feel our being a pure-play and focused F&B operator will provide us a significant advantage. As I went along the journey, I came across a number of like-minded partners who shared the same vision so we agreed to pool in our resources and rapidly grow the enterprise. That's how Lite Bite Foods was born.
You have a wide variety of band mix under LBF. Talk to us about the same.
In the F&B Retail business, our portfolio of formats comprises both leading international as well as in-house concepts and brands that will focus on delivering world-class food & beverage experiences at a far superior value price proposition than existing offerings. Today, we have a wide range of formats – including QSRs, kiosks/carts; CDRs, mega as well as mini food courts. Our QSR brands include local street foods; sandwiches; south Indian, north Indian, Italian, Chinese. We also have some innovative “Fast Casual” formats such as our Bakery Café where the USP is baked-on-premise in the finest European artisanal tradition; an international buffet with a Mediterranean soul. In Casual Dining, we have a gourmet North Indian; a Pan-Asian offering; and a South-Indian Coastal fare.
How about designing your restaurant?
The concept and story behind the design lends a strong narrative that is carried through the details of the design. Further, key aspects to a restaurant’s design is lighting, furniture, color palette and cuisine theme.v
How do you change yourself and your brand with pace of time?
You should never change the brand or its essence. I feel you should always remain true to what your brand stands for but should be nimble footed enough to tweak your offerings to meet the consumer needs. One such example was, as I mentioned earlier, when we introduced sweetened fruit juices, which went on to become a huge success.
What’s most exciting part of being in the industry?
The instant gratification you get from your consumers by way of feedback is the best part of being in the restaurant business.
What is your expansion plan?
Lite Bite Foods, is gearing up to expand its operations in the country with multiple projects however, the brands in focus are Punjab Grill, Street Foods by Punjab Grill and The Artful Baker.The robust expansion plan also includes launching new concepts.