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QSR Carl’s Jr. thinks out of the menu, wants to take over India

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Growing disposable incomes, increase in the number of nuclear families, rise in women entering the workforce, food chains encouraging affordable eating, and technological innovations are factors that have led to a shift in meals from the kitchen to the QSR, and brands – both international and home-grown – are scrambling to cash in on the growth.

QSR Carl's Jr. thinks out of the menu, wants to take over India
According to an analysis by apex industry body ASSOCHAM, the QSR sector in India is currently growing at a CAGR of 25 pc and is likely to touch the Rs 25,000 crore mark by 2020

According to an analysis by apex industry body ASSOCHAM, the QSR sector in India is currently growing at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25 per cent and is likely to touch the Rs 25,000 crore mark by 2020 from the current level of Rs 8,500 crore.

This exponential growth has only served to attract more international QSR chains into the country over the past two years, Carl’s Jr. being one such brand. The US-based QSR chain is operated by CKE Restaurants Holdings Inc globally.

In an exclusive conversation with Images Retail, Cybiz BrightStar Restaurants Private Limited’s (Carl’s Jr. Franchisee in India) Executive Director, highlights why they chose to align with Carl’s Jr. and the brand’s growth strategy for Indian market.

“When we were looking to bring a food & beverage brand through CybizCorp into India, we went through several different chains. We travelled to the headquarters of different brands across the globe, met their international company heads, gained knowledge about the brands, and even visited their kitchens. At the end of all the research, the Carl’s Jr. brand just stood out as exemplary, in many different ways and for many different reasons. The focus of premium quality ingredients and food, the strong Quality Assurance team, the brand motto and ethos, and of course the quirky advertising,” says Executive Director, (Carl’s Jr. India), Sana Chopra.

Carl’s Jr. is a pioneer in the burger industry with many firsts to its name. It was the first burger chain to provide consumers with real ice-cream milkshakes, serve jalapeno burgers and low-carb lettuce wrap burgers. The chain is  innovative, constantly striving to give consumers healthy, yet delicious options.

India’s Response

The QSR started operations in India on August 8, 2015 and the market response has been overwhelming.

“The market response has truly been extremely overwhelming. The city has noticed that we live up to our motto of serving hot, fresh, big and juicy burgers along with superstar service. Guests appreciate the size of our portions and find it to be value for money offerings, they like the options of having their burgers chargrilled, and like the choice of having beer in our restaurants,” says Sana.

Key Differentiator

Carl’s Jr. is unique in many ways but the brand is especially known for its chargrilled burgers.

“Chargrilling or charbroiling is a process in which our burgers are grilled over an open flame for a unique and distinctive taste, thus allowing them to cook in their own juices without using oils. So the patties and fillets are juicier and definitely healthier,” says Sana.

“We follow the healthy mantra even with our other products – we make our milkshakes with real ice cream, we hand-bread and batter our fried chicken items at the restaurants and always make all of our products fresh-to-order, because everybody knows fresh ingredients and preparations just taste better,” she adds.

Product Innovations

Apart from product innovations, Carl’s Jr. has created a special menu keeping Indian consumers in mind, with specially curated burgers for vegetarians, and traditional Indian tastes. This apart from food that is for the experimental palate.

“On the one hand, we have a Chargrilled Tandoori Pepper Chicken Filet Burger or a Chargrilled Paneer Tikka Burger – both of which are spicy and have very authentic Indian flavors – and on the other hand we have a Mango Jalapeño Pepper Chicken Fillet Burger which is a new product, not just in any burger restaurant in India but also for Carl’s Jr. globally. Specially developed for the Indian palate but a completely non-Indian flavor, this is definitely unique and flavorful,” says Sana.

“Similarly, we serve Wasabi Fries on our menu. This Japanese mustard flavor adds a punch to the fries that so different from a regular masala, yet satisfying that need for a hot accompaniment to fries. We specially developed this seasoning to introduce our guests to a whole new concept and way of eating fries,” she adds.

Carl’s Jr.’s hand-scooped ice cream milkshakes are also made with real ice cream, and not powdered pre-mixes in new and exciting flavors like Tiramisu and Piña Colada, that are unique to the Indian market.

Expansion Plans

Up until now, the QSR has opened three restaurants in Delhi/NCR – Behind Select CITYWALK in Saket, Pacific Mall, Tagore Garden and DLF Mall of India, Noida. The brand is still in process of expansion, but will stick to opening more restaurants in Delhi NCR before heading to other parts of the country.

“We will be opening a minimum of 100 restaurants in India over the next 10 years. Initially, we are expanding in Delhi/NCR region and then move into other metros, and gradually we will move into Tier II and Tier III locations,” says Sana.

“First we will work on a COCO (Company Owned, Company Operated) model but later on, we may look at operating on the FOCO (Franchise Owned, Company Operated) model as well. We will also eventually award the right for FOFO model restaurants to large, multi-unit sub franchisees,” she concludes.