New Silk Route‘s (NSR) South Asia Gastronomy Enterprises, LLC, has joined hands with Mumbai-based Moshe‘s Fine Foods Pvt Ltd that operates an F&B chain specialising in Mediterranean cuisine. Parag Saxena, Shantanu Nalavadi, and Chef Moshe Shek comment on what the partnership will entail.
How will NSR augment the partnership?
Parag Saxena: This is the second investment by NSR’s Gastronomy Holding company, which is looking at investing in F&B companies and/or invest through majority partnerships with promoters. NSR will be acquiring the majority interest in Moshe’s Fine Foods. Lodha Capital Markets was our sole advisor to the transaction.
Moshe’s specialises in Mediterranean cuisine influenced from parts of Italy, Spain, Turkey, Egypt and the Middle East, with focus on natural and fresh cooking at reasonable price points. It operates in Mumbai through three formats: two Casual Dining Restaurants, seven Cafés and two QSR formats. It also operates a high-end catering business and its range of baked goods, desserts and savouries are sold at high-end retail outlets. The capital infusion will be invested in augmenting existing infrastructure to expand further within Mumbai, and also set up new infrastructure for expanding into newer cities such as Pune, Bangalore and New Delhi.
What is your reaction to the partnership?
Chef Moshe Shek: I am extremely pleased to partner with NSR’s Gastronomy and leverage their proficiency in this market. We’ve come a long way in building our presence across prime locations in Mumbai and creating a loyal consumer base. As the customer base grows in diversity and size, we need to keep growing fast and sustain the momentum. Food is my passion and my expertise, but for Moshe’s to get into the next phase of growth and build networks across the country, funds and a thorough understanding of this space is essential.
What other investments has NSR’s Gastronomy Holding made?
Parag Saxena: NSR’s Gastronomy has invested in Bangalore-based Vasudev Adigas Fast Food Ltd, a chain of South Indian food outlets, last year, and is exploring partnering in other popular cuisines such as Indian Chinese, North Indian, etc.
What will the partnership entail?
Shantanu Nalavadi: Under the partnership, whilst each of the businesses will run on separate standalone basis so as to not dilute in any manner whatsoever the positioning and brand experience, Gastronomy will bring in the expertise and required synergies in the back-end functions such as HR, business development, corporate, etc and invest in IT infrastructure, training facilities, etc. NSR and its Gastronomy portfolio company are now seeing a large number of enquiries from potential partners.
Please tell us about New Silk Route.
Shantanu Nalavadi: NSR is a leading Asia-focussed private equity and growth capital firm founded in 2006 with $1.4 billion under management, focused on the Indian subcontinent, as well as other rapidly growing economies in Asia and the Middle East. New Silk Route’s team of experienced investment professionals has deep relationships in a variety of sectors, while the firm’s geographical focus also leverages strong and historical cultural links that bind Asia and the Middle East. It owns a portfolio company, South Asia Gastronomy Enterprises LLC, making investments and serving as a platform for investments in the F&B industry.
How has Moshe’s grown over the years?
Chef Moshe Shek: I started Moshe’s 10 years ago. Today, it is viewed as one of Mumbai’s iconic F&B brand. I started my career with the Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai, and subsequently worked with Hilton. I was also responsible for introducing India’s first restrobar, Athena. I was greatly inspired by my numerous visits to the Mediterranean, and had the desire to present my own signature style to the target audience. Moshe’s now operates a chain of upscale casual dining restaurants, cafes, takeaways, full service catering and in-store gourmet lines offering authentic fresh Mediterranean cuisine. We retail jams, breads, condiments, cookies, desserts, and dips.
What is your view of the current food service business in India?
Parag Saxena: In the last few years, the ‘eating out’ culture in India has been on a significant rise owing to the expanding middle class, rising disposable incomes, influx of migrants to the metros, and widening exposure to new cultures and cuisines. The higher frequency of eating out has increased the potential growth of the food service sector. A report by NRAI reveals that the size of the food service market in India is estimated at $48 billion in 2013. This is projected to grow at a CAGR of 11 percent over the next 5 years to reach $78 billion by 2018. Chains account for only as little as 5 percent of the total market.