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At Food Forum India (FFI) 2010, the stalwarts of the industry not only spoke about processing and manufacturing food items but also identifying the correct locations for positioning the products. An engaging session probed into the new-age transit locations as the venue for good food retailing. Sharing statistics, anchor for the session Samir Kuckreja, president, National Restaurant Association of India and CEO and MD, Nirula’s said, “There are currently 454 airports in India of which 16 are the international ones. Also there are 18 million commuters in the railway itself of whom 20 per cent travel in the AC coaches. There are already 7,000 railway stations in India and 50 world class stations are being budgeted for in the near future. Thus, the opportunities thrown up by these new locations are endless.”

With travel becoming an important part of the lifestyle segment, more and more food industry players are exploring newer avenues, such as airports, for setting up their outlets. Anoop Sequeira, CEO, Brand Calculus (Booster Juice) stated, “Transit locations such as airports help us to generate business 24-hours as compared to other locations for which we pay rentals for 24-hours but can be open only for 12 hours or so. I agree that the rentals are high but at the same time the opportunity of business is higher.”

S Shriram, GM, Key Accounts, Cafe Coffee Day pointed out that even the location of the outlet within the airport area needs to be strategically chosen. He also brought up the issue about railway platforms being another good alternative location and thus questioned, “Almost 18 million passengers travel by train but do we have enough resource to satisfy even a fraction of them with our products and services? Also, the consumer at the airport or the railway stations are hard pressed for time. So we also need to consider how fast we can deliver to the consumer whose flight is getting announced and the likes.” Agreeing to the views put forward by Shriram, Zahir Abbas, associate director, Travel retail, Technopak Advisors suggested, “A lot more infrastructure needs to be built in the near future.”

Jagvir Singh Rana, director operations and buusiness development, HMSHOST Services India said “Having an outlet at the airports requires more hard work in terms of getting clearance for the staff but the traffic is good.” Kuckreja added, “Also there are certain rules to be kept in mind while packaging the food items at these transit locations.”

Rajeev Panjwani, CEO, Travel Food Services, concluded, “The display has to be attractive for the consumer. Also the store design needs to be more open in order to help a customer to move around with his travel baggage. It is all about convenience and now we are also looking at more specific opportunities like catering to the passengers at the delayed flight stage.”

— Sayanti Banerjee

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