Jasper Reid, Director, Sierra Nevada Restaurants – master franchisee of Wendy‘s in India – speaks to FoodService India about his plans for building up the presence of the world‘s third-largest burger chain in India by focusing on the QSR ++ concept under which Wendy‘s will focus on investing deeply into menu, restaurant design, service and customer experience model.
Some the leading foreign QSR brands have witnessed slowing same-store sales growth over the past few quarters. Given this scenario, would it be right to say that the food service business is not affected by the turns and tides of the economy as people will need to eat even in times of economic slowdown?
The eating out market offers great potential and the food services currently is a 130 billion dollar market. The evolved Indian customer is value-conscious but not just from a price perspective – but also what he’s getting in terms of food quality and taste. We’ve ensured that Wendy’s offers good quality products at affordable prices which has helped us drive loyalty amongst customers at an early stage.
Tell us about your progress in the first year of your operation in India. How many outlets have you been able to add in this period and how many more do you plan to add in the near future?
We opened our first restaurant in India in May 2015 followed by another restaurant in November in Gurgaon. The response has been great and we are planning to increase the restaurant count to eight by end of this financial year. Right now, we are focusing on Delhi NCR – and our next two big launches are going to be in DLF Mall of India and Cyber Hub.
The aim is to open 40-50 stores in the next 4-5 years.
How do you look at the prospects, outlook and opportunities for growth in the QSR segment in India as compared to the past year?
The economy is a bit soft right now but we are optimistic to move forward. India has a large and growing young population. The young generation is attracted to the quick service for the value and convenience that the segment offers. I have no doubt in saying that Indian consumers have responded well to the QSR++ concept.
Please explain the QSR++ concept, which you have introduced. What is it all about and how will it help to make your retail space and service more exciting?
Wendy’s is in the QSR plus category, so while we offer the convenience and speed of a QSR, we have invested deeply into menu, the restaurant design and the service and customer experience model. We are in the sweet spot between QSRs and Casual Dining – making us uniquely poised in the industry. Our aim is to bring hospitality into the QSR business and hence we’ve designed Wendy’s in India as a place where customers feel relaxed and spend more time enjoying their meal and conversations while we take over the service aspect.
Whether it is the ambience, the music that we play, the technology we use or the products we offer, it has been a welcoming change for consumers. At the same time, we have engineered the competitive pricing for quality products. We have paid great attention to detail and ensured we offer value not only through price but also the experience we offer. For example, you are served on the table in proper crockery and your food is not
wrapped in paper and put on a plastic tray.
Going forward what do you think will be the new innovations to the QSR format in India?
The new trend is going to be about offering a place where a consumer would like to spend time amidst the speed and convenience of a QSR. Consumers these days like their food prepared fresh and cooked in a healthier way. So service will also remain an important element. Wendy’s has dedicated counters, the food is made there and then brought to the counters in proper crockery. There is no queuing in front of a chaotic kitchen.
How do you assess the market potential for the burger category in India? How do you see it performing versus the Pizza category?
They are both very big markets but the margins in pizza are hard to beat.
What has been the market response to your especially crafted vegetarian menu for Indian consumers? Are you looking to expand its scope further by bringing in newer ingredients?
Our menu is led by Veg! Our Spicy Aloo Crunch is one of our bestsellers and vegetarian consumers are loving the fact that apart from the veg burgers, we also offer a range of vegetarian non-burger items like baked potatoes, cheese fries, salads, cheese melts. As we open more restaurants, we will continue to strengthen our vegetarian menu.
International burger chains operating in India usually have third party vendors from where they source their ingredients. How do you ensure that the vendors meet the quality parameters and benchmarks?
All our ingredients are sourced with the greatest care. Our buns are artisan bakery standard, our lettuce, tomatoes, onions are farm fresh and cut in the store. We make sure our suppliers’ processing standard match up to our and the government’s
What has been the response to your home delivery service? How much of online sales are you doing currently and how do you see this segment growing for you?
India is only the third market for Wendy’s to start with home delivery service considering the consumer expectation for convenience. We’ve kept a limited delivery area to ensure our food quality remains intact but despite the same – currently delivery is driving 15-20 per cent additional sales for the brand. Delivery is a great frequency building tool and we will be expanding our set of online ordering partners to ensure we reach maximum customers.