“The whole push is convenience, ‘anytime, anywhere’ availability of Chinese food”: Ashish Kapur, managing director of Yo! China, in conversation with Ira Mehra and Neha Chhetri from indiaretailing.com
Q: You quoted once that Yo! China is all about ‘Chinese Food at Chinese Prices’. Please elaborate.
AK: We founded Yo! China in May 2003 with the idea of giving consumers and guests great-quality food at value pricing, in an international ambience. Unlike other Chinese restaurants, it is open throughout the day. The international look is in terms of the display kitchen, bright interiors (yellow and red), and does not have the traditional dragon look to it. That’s where the value comes in. Apart from that, we have very fast service; we have combos that are unique to our menu. Hence, ‘Chinese Food at Chinese Prices’. The lowest meal on the menu is for Rs 20 and it is served in an American-style box. The most expensive dish is for Rs 135. So, within that price range it’s really budget Chinese, but served in an air-conditioned and international ambience.
Q: What makes Yo! China so popular among the youth?
AK: Intrinsically, if you see, the youth is fond of Chinese cuisine. According to the November 06 Business World survey, the youth was asked about the cuisine they are most likely to eat when they go out with friends. The number one cuisine they said was Chinese. That makes Chinese the most popular cuisine the youth will go for. Secondly, we attract them by being in hip and high-footfall locations. Besides, offering Chinese food in a trendy ambience really attracts them. The other thing is that there is no alcohol, so it’s a woman-friendly place.
Q: What role does Matrix Partners India play in your investment plans?
AK: Matrix Partners invested Rs 25 crore in November 06. They are a topnotch fund, and have invested in companies like FedEx and Apple.
Q: With May 07 marking your 4th anniversary, what are your future plans for growth and expansion in the country as a whole?
AK: We are now in 8 cities, and are growing very aggressively in north, south and west. We will be spending about Rs 20 crore a year.
Q: What makes dimsums in Yo! China so special?
AK: It is the variety, the flavour, and the wrapping of the skin of dimsums that make it very different. Coupled with that is the price at which we sell the dimsums. The quality of the dimsum here is at par with the quality at a five-star hotel, served at Rs 11 to Rs 12 per piece. This is value for money.
Q: In cities like Patna, where there is neither a Pizza Hut nor a Mc Donald’s, how do you think a Chinese restaurant like Yo! China is going to work there?
AK: There are a couple of things. After opening up at airports, we will be going to railway stations soon. We have gone into multi-formats because we feel that the consumers – the guests – should be addressed in whichever place most convenient for them. Hence, the airports, the corporates, and the educational institutes. We started Yo! On the Go, the carts that can now be found at various locations. So, the whole push is for convenience, for ‘anytime, anywhere’ affordability of Chinese food. Places like Patna are great for us because there is complete possibility to go to places where there is not too much of the eating-out option. People love Chinese food, and again, it’s the ‘early bird’ advantage.