In an exclusive interview with Franchise India, Gaurav Ahuja talks about the importance of location in opening a restaurant, the importance of customer needs and the design aspect of a restaurant.
How has your restaurant created a different image in positioning yourself in the food market?
We are primarily a much focused QSR chains. Our USP is fresh foods and value for money prices. This is the market which was underestimated and underserviced, so what we have primarily tried to do is to retain the freshness of the food because I think that it is the thing which is currently found in only fine-dine space. And we did that in QSR and the value for money prices, and I think that makes us different from the crowd?
What is the key to success for speciality restaurants?
The first key not only for restaurant’s success but also any organisation is the team and the second thing is whether the product being offered is in accordance to the needs of the customer. It matters a lot for the restaurant because food travels from city to city. And if you can map this truly that can lead you to success. Suppose if you have to open your restaurant in different cities as we have opened our restaurant in 10 cities, some amount of mapping, localisation is required according to the scenario of Indian food. You cannot have the same spice and taste of Hyderabad and Lucknowi food.
How do you cater to the need of right customer at the right location?
We are present across the finest malls in the country. The kind of brand loyalty we admire on who visits a mall is extremely high. We enjoy the ankle position in most of the malls we operate. Indian customer enjoys going to malls on weekends, so we give them good quality hygienic food. Today everybody looks for brand be it upper class or middle class and people are looking towards better options of taking food. That is why the food courts are a very emerging category and that’s where we put in.
What are you doing for Delicious by design, i.e. right from designing of store to food layout?
The very first thing we do is to decide on a location. The moment the location is finalised we focus on the localisation of menu and for that we do a lot of survey in the local area. Talking about design I think we are the only brand located in food court that’s winning award for design since the last few years. We take a lot of inspiration from the developed market and then localise it to suit the Indian customer’s needs.
How is the supply chain management done in your restaurant?
Supply chain is still a challenge in the country because of infrastructure issues. I think that it is the ongoing tussle in the restaurant industry. There are certain things which are made central. Most of the suppliers are local, and the quality has to be checked locally. I think if you have a local supplier you have advantages and disadvantages: the advantage is that you don’t have to maintain event while the disadvantage is that the quality check is local. So you need to have a central team to check for quality.
Why Indian Restaurant chains fail in India?
I think it is the location which contributes to the success of a restaurant. If you choose a wrong location the chances of succeeding in the food business is very minimal; the real-estate segment in the country is also intimidating. So, if you land at the wrong place whatever marketing you do, whatever quality of food you serve, you will never make it to success. If you cannot map the expectation of your customer, your business is eventually going to fail.
What are your plans about taking the IPO route?
We are very happy the way we are right now. We are recently profitable on outlet level; each of our stores is profitable. We are currently growing through the internal routes and probably in the next two years will plan for 1000 outlets and then I will think for going the IPO route.
How has been the journey so far?
It has been the roller coaster ride. I was not from the hospitality background; was a banker earlier; but my passion brought me here. I wanted to have a restaurant chain of my own and I think this brought me back from Singapore to India. But today after receiving so many awards in the restaurant industry, we are happy that we started to grow in different parts of the country. And another thing is that our team is much focused, so where am today is just because of them. I want to be India’s largest restaurant chain in the world.