After gaining experience as an Investment Banker at Bank of America, U.K. Varun returned to India to join the business in 2008. Varun is spearheading group's foray into the travel sector under Travel Food Services (TFS) and has nurtured it to become largest player in F & B sector. Talking to Restaurant India, Varun shares his experience in the restaurant sector.
How do find the right combinations of high streets, malls and food court suitable for each of the brand that you run?
We operate under different brand areas and we treat each of the brand very differentiately. For Copper Chimney we see the locations where we have high footfalls coming, hence we find mall a very common venue for the brand to grow. As well as when we look internationally into it, we go high street as well. On the other side, Irish House as pub is best suitable for the high street or if we go to a mall we will take a very different location to that of a food court or a fine dine restaurant. Terraces and off locations are best preferred for it. So, location depends on the place which fits the brand best.
How do you use the real estate as an inflation hedge over the next two years?
The importance is to go into long term leases. A restaurateur should always spend time and also research well before signing a property. Today when rentals are going up long term lease will help bridging the gap caused by the inflation. So, we as a brand believe in taking long term leases and ultimately having that protection where we know what the cost will be next year
Travel food services has partnered with airports, television shows and wedding events including IPL. How was the experience all together?
We work a lot with airports. Airports are doing great as we have very good amount of footfall there but at the same time airports are very high standard place to operate, very high security, lots of hidden and high costs. You have to take care of the security; the hygiene standard etc and airports are really a good sell for us for taking the retail space to the next level.
At the same time, we constantly do IPL, especially in Mumbai where we get the type of scale where we sell approximately 70-80 thousand meals a day. We plan nine month in advance for one day because of the size of the business that we got out of the IPL matches.
What is the cost of setting an outlet at the airport and what is the footfall that you receive?
The investment that we do for the airports is much larger than the normal outlet. The backend that we do for airports is very expensive, because you cannot use gas for airports. So, we have done a lot of research for the electric equipment.
Irish House was something that was born out of you. So, what all new could we see at Irish House which makes it different from your traditional brands?
This is the first time we went into a Bar cum Pub concept. We used to be food experts before its launch. Irish House came out of my personal experience, after spending my time in New York and London where one could find a neighbourhood pub but I feel that was still missing in our country.