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“We Plan to Open 10 Outlets in North India by 2016”

USA-based, Caribbean inspired fast-casual restaurant chain, , in association with franchise partner, Paramount Cuisines (part of ) forayed into the Indian market with the launch of its first restaurant in Delhi (at , Saket). This is ’s 33rd internationally franchised location. Manjit Singh Saini, CEO, Paramount, and Marc Mushk in, Senior Vice President, International Development, , talk about the brand’s business and expansion plans in India, with Juhi Sharma

Tell us about Pollo Tropical.

Mushkin: Pollo Tropical has a presence in North and South America with 95 outlets in US and 33 in Central and South America, through franchisees.We realised that India, with its vast and growing market, largely populated by the middle-class with increasing disposable incomes, would be an ideal market for our brand to grow. This is our first restaurant outside the Americas.

How did you decide on your Indian franchise partner.

Mushkin: During a trade mission to India in in 2011, which was sponsored by the US Department of Commerce, I had evaluated 30 companies in Hyderabad, Mumbai and Delhi. We finally chose the Paramount Group for its sound business acumen and operational expertise.

How is the brand being positioned?

Saini: We are positioning it little above a mass brand. In the US, it is positioned as a fastcasual restaurant, which is between fast food and local casual dinning.

Has there been customisation of the menu?

We always customise our offerings in whichever market we are present. In India, we have customised much more as a large chunk of the population here is vegetarian. We have spent time in food testing and creating paneer-related dishes and platters for our vegetarian customers.

What are your expansion plans within India?

Saini: We plan to open at least 10 Pollo Tropical stores in Delhi-NCR, Punjab, Chandigarh and Haryana by 2016. The next store will come up in Delhi in a food court of a mall.

What challenges have you faced in India?

Mushkin: There are many challenges in the Indian market; the major one is the lack of a proper supply chain infrastructure; getting products from the vendor to the location is a big challenge here.