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Merry Chefs & Fry Masters

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, Sales Director (India & South Asia) , Manitowoc India, talks about Wisconsin-based Manitowoc’s foray into the Indian market and their future plans, with Juhi Sharma

Tell us about Manitowoc’s entry into the Indian market.

Manitowoc entered India in the 1990s with the objective of supplying crane and foodservice equipment. It started with ice cube machines and beverage equipment through tie-ups with established Indian companies such as Blue Star. As Manitowoc began to establish itself on Indian soil, it gained more and more domestic partners, and before long, decided to set up a base in the country.

In 2006, I was appointed the first employee of Manitowoc in India. In 2008, Manitowoc acquired Enodis, a global leader in commercial kitchen equipment. The integration created a dynamic platform for Manitowoc’s global growth.

We have two sale formats: master distributor and individual distributor. Master distributors have sub-dealers in different parts of the state. Individual dealers handle  one particular brand in a territory or they deal in a brand at the national level. Currently, we have a network of 12 master and individual dealers.

How has the Indian foodservice sector evolved with respect to professional equipments?

Foodservice operators are learning and adopting best practices followed by multinational chains. There has been more and better adoption of food equipments by a lot of home-grown and regional restaurants such as Nathu’s, which uses our oven for baking samosas. The industry is moving from using equipment manufactured by local vendors or the unorganised segment to branded and advanced, imported equipments. Food service operators now understand and acknowledge the benefits of this shift. We are also witnessing more business coming in than ever before from India.

How do you impart training and knowledge?

We offer free in-house training to end-users, clients and to the technicians at our dealers. The training covers various modules for different brands and comprises audio-visual, print materials and hands-on training, so that the operator knows how to use the equipment and the technician learns how to service it. We also offer a certification course. We have two culinary chefs on board who give demos to clients; they also help them in how to make optimum use of the equipments, and in recipe planning.

Initially, we are offering such training programmes in Delhi and will take them to other  cities as we expand. Generally, we hold such training programmes for chain restaurants and dealers, but in case of individual customers, our dealers conduct the training. In case a customer is opening a store with several of our equipments then we send our technicians to assist with training and demos.

Which is the best performing region for Manitowoc products in India?

Our best performing market is the north, which contributes around 35 percent revenue, followed by the southern region (30 percent), west India (25-28 percent) and the rest comes from east India.

What latest technology are you offering?

Oil conserving fryers is our latest technological advancement under the brand Frymaster. These fryers use less oil, less energy and save a lot of money. Low oil volume fryers have specially designed burners, which are like fry pots, so they save energy. We have recently launched a new series of under-counter ice cube machines under the name Manitowoc Ice, which are technically very advanced.

What are the operational challenges in the Indian market?

One of the biggest challenges in India is the non-availability or insufficient availability of energy resources, and the high cost of energy, due to which, many regional players do not invest in professional equipments.

There are a large number of local vendors in the country offering products at a lower cost, so convincing distributors to keep our equipments is a challenge.

What are your furture plans for India?

We will be launching more products to meet local requirements, and will be hiring more staff to reach different markets. We are also considering local manufacturing for some equipments that are specific to the Indian market. We also want to start stainless steel fabrication. Our vision is to be USD 100 million company in India by 2020.