Talk to us about the launches of your two eateries Jamie’s Italian & Jamie’s Pizzeria in India?
I am massively excited that we’re opening two restaurants in the Indian market. It’s the first time we’ve done anything like this overseas so it’s a big step for us. The pizzeria is the first of its kind outside the UK so we can’t wait to open the doors and see what our guests think. I’ve been across all the menus and design and I’m very proud it and what the whole team have achieved. We’ll be serving up what I think is a brilliant menu of pizzas, all of which will be made with fresh homemade dough and topped with the best possible produce. We’re making sure it’s really great value, too, so you don’t have to splash out too much cash. I really hope people love it.
Jamie’s Italian is all about honest, simple Italian food cooked really well and all at a great price. The menu is really flexible so you can pop in for a bowl of pasta or sit down for a four course meal. Again, we’ll only be using top notch produce.
Over the past couple of years many international food joints have stepped into the Indian market. Was a late entry contemplated?
We never jump into anything. I’ve wanted to open a restaurant in India for years but for us it’s about finding a brilliant partner to work with and a fantastic site which takes time.
What model have you chosen to enter into India? Will it be a JV or a solo entry?
We always work with a partner internationally. We’re not arrogant enough to think that we could open a restaurant overseas on our own. We know our style, our ethos and our food but we need a fantastic local partner who has real knowledge of the territory.
Do you think India is a good market for the Italian palate? Why?
Italian food already seems to be very popular which is great but a lot of people have said to me that there’s a lot of cheap big pizza chains and a fair few higher end Italian restaurants but not much in between. I really hope we can fill that gap with some great quality but brilliant value Italian food.
Talk to us about the investment made to bring Jamie Oliver in India?
In terms of resources it’s huge. I won’t name names but I know of chefs who will just put their name to a restaurant overseas and will leave it at that. It’s just something we would never do. I have a whole team dedicated to our international restaurants whose job it is to ensure that the quality remains consistently high wherever it is in the world.
We also put a huge amount into training. We always bring our new senior teams over to the UK to train in our restaurants here and ensure that the rest of the team is trained by our crack UK team. We really want our international restaurants to feel as much part of the family as any of our UK restaurants.
Real estate has always been a big reason to worry for international brands. Did you face any challenges doing the same?
Of course we have and we do rely heavily on our partners when it comes to securing sites.
India is a competitive market when it comes to pricing. What do you have in your bucket for the same? How will you compete with the pricing keeping quality in mind?
A competitive market isn’t new to us and right from day one we’ve had to work incredibly hard on keeping our prices down whilst making sure the quality never slips. I can guarantee you that our margins aren’t as good as other restaurants and never will be.
Sure, they could better if we dropped the quality of our ingredients but it’s a simple something we will never compromise on.
What is the growth rate of your company internationally? Do you expect the same growth in India? Why/ Why not?
We don’t go as quickly as other brands. I think we could but as I mentioned earlier, we’re about getting it completely right before we jump to the next project. It might sound crazy but our international group of restaurants has grown very organically.