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Yum! Gets Niren Chaudhary Back to Handle India Operations

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Niren Chaudhary, an expat from the global ranks of Yum!, is expected to take charge as India MD on March 19, 2007, says a reliable source.

After departure of India head Sandeep Kohli; Ajay Bansal, director, Business Development; and CFO Anupam Bhattacharya following an audit visit by Yum! Head Office, Vinod Mehboobani from the Singapore office had taken temporary charge as India head for Yum! operations, for Pizza Hut and KFC.

Industry sources reveal that international brands and retailers have been under tremendous pressure to fast expand their operations in emerging markets. In India, where direct investments in retail were not entertained till last year, most took the route of franchising for expansion. The problem occurs when the brand promise is high and returns are not adequate for the franchisees that invest heavily in retail stores. Despite the fact that Pizza Hut created a sizeable network of about 130 outlets and KFC made a strong comeback with a new-look chain of 25 outlets, Yum! headquarters might not have found the results commensurate with the plans and budgets allocated for promotion.

It is also learnt that Mumbai-based Dodsal Corporation, which has the franchisee rights for Pizza Hut for Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and the city of Mumbai, along with the franchisee rights for KFC in the cities of Mumbai and Bangalore, wanted to exit India retail operations and that came as a major setback in Yum! India’s growth plans.

Yum! Restaurants has three master franchisees in India, with the Ravi Jaipuria-promoted Devyani International (DIL) as the biggest one. DIL is the Pizza Hut and KFC franchisee in north and east Indian markets. Pizzeria Restaurants is another franchisee with operations in south and west Indian markets.

Dodsal’s decision to exit the Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) business altogether in India is a lesson for all retail brands relying too much on franchisees. Industry experts feel that one should have multiple franchisees in metros and regions that have the potential for large consumption.

Niren Chaudhary is at present general manager of the KFC business in the Netherlands and Germany, based out of Amsterdam. He worked with Yum! India between 1995 and 1997 as director, Operations, and thereafter moved to the Yum! London office.

In the meantime, Yum! India has engaged Anup Jain as its new director, Marketing, for Pizza Hut operations in the Indian subcontinent. Jain will report to chief marketing officer for the Indian subcontinent, Arvind Mediratta.

With about 10 years of experience in brand management, Jain has worked in the FMCG, media, cosmetics and consumer durables sectors with companies like Procter & Gamble, STAR and Oriflame Asia, besides Whirlpool, where he last worked as its GM, Brand Marketing. Jain became popular for his innovative marketing gimmicks and campaigns. His “What Women Want” campaign for Whirlpool and associations with Rin and Surf Excel were impressive. In 2005, he led the Diwali programme, organizing over 20 festive events with seven publications, and masterminded an exclusive alliance with ICICI Bank which led to a breakthrough growth in the business. He is also the man behind the project “To-Be-Weds”, in alliance with, which was launched in March 2006.

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