Ajay Kaul, Former CEO, Jubilant Foodworks


Former CEO
Jubilant Foodworks Ltd
Privilege Clubs (India Retail Forum; India Food Forum)
Regarded by peers and subordinates alike as an uncommonly gifted and passionate leader, Ajay Kaul believes retail is the only platform where one can actualise life’s mantras — believing in one’s capabilities, overcoming difficulties and constantly innovating to stay ahead of every curve — on a daily basis.
A high profile chieftain of the Indian foodservice industry, Ajay Kaul had presided over Jubilant Foodworks Ltd’s (JFL) remarkable growth trajectory for over a decade before calling it a day. Among the company’s many awe-inspiring achievements is its hugely successful 2010 IPO, marking the first successful public listing of a QSR firm in India. Some would even claim that Kaul’s leadership opened the floodgates for PE funding in the foodservice business. Also, Domino’s Pizza India is the largest market for Domino’s in the world (outside USA).
Which would explain why, at an individual level, he has been recognised as many times as the company he leads from the front. Among his many laurels are –
* Awarded “Outstanding CEO” by CEO India Inc. in 2014
* XLRI’s Distinguished Alumnus Award (Practicing Manager) 2014
* “Professional Leader of the Year 2013” by Franchise India at Indian Restaurant Congress
* Ernst & Young “Entrepreneur of the Year 2010 Award India – Finalist”
* “Most Admired Food Professional – 2009” by India Food Forum
Ajay is also part of the Global Markets Council, an exclusive team of 10 leaders in Domino’s Pizza Worldwide to make Domino’s the No. 1 Brand in the World.
“When I joined Domino’s Pizza back in 2005, it had about 90 restaurants, with sales of around INR 90 crore. It also had accumulated losses of close to INR 100 crore, with INR 80-90 crore in its books as debt. We were just about EBITA positive,” Ajay told Indiaretailing Bureau in 2015.
Under Ajay’s watch, with a Rs 1,400 crore-plus turnover, JFL has became India’s largest food service company, with a network of 844 Domino’s Pizza outlets across 185 cities (as of 5th February, 2015). In February 2011, the company inked a master franchise agreement with Dunkin’ Donuts’ for developing and operating its restaurants in India. It has since launched 50 Dunkin’ Donuts’ outlets across 18 Indian cities (as of 5th February, 2015).
Ajay Kaul believes this incredible growth story has been driven by sustaining a culture of constant innovation. “The fundamental challenge in India was a foreign treatment to the whole concept of eating a pizza. Indian consumers in India were not ready to move from traditional snacking options to a whole new category,” he told Indiaretailing Bureau.
“Our main objective was to generate a more friendly approach towards the category so that Indians could start connecting with it and incorporating it in their everyday lives. And that is what led to genesis of localisation and intense innovation in all our products,” he elaborates. From ‘Khushiyon ki Home Delivery’ to ‘Yeh Hai Rishton ka time’, what has followed in the years since at Domino’s India can be considered a do-er’s guide on the ‘think global, act local’ axiom,” he had said.
Under his leadership, Domino’s became the single largest MNC Food Service Brand in India, with this market being the largest outside of USA for Domino’s.
Sharing JFL’s expansion plans, Kaul had said, “We have been expanding unabated. We will add 150 new Domino’sand 30 Dunkin’ Donuts outlets in the course of this financial year. Even in an otherwise tough year, we are going at full swing to build four new commissaries in Hyderabad, Nagpur, Guwahati and Greater Noida. Thus, the total capex for the financial year would land at roughly Rs 300 crores. So Jubilant Foodworks is setting itself up for a future, that is high growth oriented and will further reinforce it as the undisputed market leader.”
Brought up in a conventional, middle-class environment in the steel township of SAIL in Rourkela, Orissa, Kaul schooled in a Government-run school, following it up with a B. Tech from IIT Delhi and an MBA from XLRI, Jamshedpur.
This leader among leaders’ personal interests include Golf, Bridge, music (including a serious crooning talent) and social causes.