The Government’s decision to withdraw Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes as legal tender has impacted the consumer life in a big way. As a result, instead of spending on luxuries, consumers today are spending cautiously on necessities.
Reduced consumer interest has left many sectors in the society struggling and the restaurant industry is no exception. However, restaurateurs like Rahul Singh – who founded The Beer Café – see it as a short-term lull till the time new currency is circulated in the market in full capacity.
Said Rahul Singh, “Over the past few days, we have seen a drop of 7 per cent in business. I believe this will be back to normal real soon as our demographics is young urban who have always preferred plastic over currency and the little dip has come in due to the abolition of a particular tender series which will be reinstated in few days.”
But on a positive note, it will also bring in a level playing field where the short-term players who had entered the market to reap long-term gains will be uprooted from the sector, paving the way for branded chains, which invest in proper infrastructure, backend, logistics and employees.
Singh said, “We are thrilled with the clampdown on currency usage, as our entire company runs on a digital eco-system. We strongly believe in a cash-less transaction across all our receivables and payables. The unorganised, non-tax paying sector will see a drastic impact and we will vindicated with the fact that it brings in a level playing field for compliant and nation building companies like ours.”
The Beer Café caters to the young and urban population who are digitally advanced, and the chain has already started experiencing a hike in cashless transactions.
“Before note ban, at The Beer Café outlets across India, the plastic card to currency ratio was 70:30. But after demonetization, the ratio of plastic card to currency has increased to 95:5. Even once the new currency notes are back in circulation we are certain that the ratio will move to 80 plastic: 20 currency,” revealed Singh.
He further added, “Though we as merchants pay bank commission on plastic cards and mobile wallets, it is an ideal instrument for ease of accounting and efficiency. For the currency collection, we have a bank tie-up which picks from all our outlets every day and this also comes at a monthly service cost. And there is always the risk of safe keeping and wastage of time in loose change and counting.”
The company that had previously raised two rounds of funding from venture capital firm Mayfield Fund, currently, has no plans to raise any funds.
Singh said, “We have enough funds to scale up at present.”
During its last round of fund-raising in December 2014, The Beer Café raised Rs 30 crore from Granite Hill Capital and Mayfield Fund.
The Beer Café, which generates 65 per cent of its revenue from beer, 25 per cent from food and the rest 10 per cent from spirits, is looking to double its revenue to Rs 100 crore this financial year by expanding into new cities in the country.
The beer chain started operations in 2012 has outlets across 10 cities in India including Mumbai, New Delhi, Chandigarh, Bengaluru, Amritsar, Gurgaon and Pune. Going further, it is planning to expand to two new cities.
“We are going from 10 cities to 12. We are adding two new cities by end of this fiscal – Calcutta and Noida. We will also be adding more outlets. We try and add two – three outlets every month. So this is what our progress is right now,” said Singh.
Beer & Technology
Apart from serving more than 50 varieties of beer from 18 different countries, Singh wanted to build product retailing as a strong revenue stream, leveraging the existing infrastructure, he introduced Beerosphere in April this year.
Merchandise and patented products like gaming, gadgets, gifting, décor and glassware which are available across all The Beer Café outlets, online portal and various other e-commerce site. The response to this quirky range of products has been overwhelming.
“The response from the customers has been great. The gadgets are doing really well and we get around 8-10 orders a day. The other Beerosphere products that have received a good response are the Thor’s Beer Mug,” said Singh
On being asked about the investments, sales and expectation from this chain of products, Singh said that he expects Rs 2.5 crore in revenue this fiscal, with the gadgets being available in more than 30 outlets.
“In the next five years, we are aiming for revenue of Rs 150 crore from the new Beerosphere line and hoping to carve a niche in the retail segment,” Singh added.
About future plans, Singh said the company will soon introduce a new line of laptop sleeves and phone cases. A range of new glassware/drinkware, too, is on the cards.
“The range of products in Beerosphere includes unusual, handy and utilitarian technology merchandise — from home décor, glassware to gaming — all of them designed to take one’s beer love to another level,” Singh added.
The range also includes impressive gadgets, some of which are patented from the US and exclusively available in India through Beerosphere.