Westlife Development Ltd, which owns Hardcastle Restaurants, the master franchisee of McDonald’s restaurants for western and southern India, expects its business to return to pre-COVID-19 level from the next quarter and continue its expansion journey by adding more stores to its network, said a company official. The company plans to open three new stores in this quarter and then resume its growth journey of adding 25-40 stores every year from the next fiscal.
“If the momentum of consumer confidence continues, we will achieve and hopefully exceed pre-COVID-19 levels in the next 2-3 months,” Westlife Development Vice-Chairman Amit Jatia told news agency PTI.
He added that in the coming quarters, through the in-store business, the company will continue to grow, the convenience channels will be there, and here to stay.
“Convenience channels are here to stay… For occasional use for the restaurants, where people used to come for hang-outs and celebrate, this was not being met and that need is coming back. It would not take away (business) from the convenience channels,” he added.
Jatia also said the company almost reached pre-COVID-19 numbers in December.
“The business has gone up month after month. In December, we were almost 97 per cent of the pre-COVID-19 sales. Even Ebitda margin for the month of December was 13.1 per cent, which gave us a lot of hope, as we are moving up month on month. I feel it is here to stay,” he said.
Hardcastle Restaurants In-Store business was 85 per cent of the pre-COVID-19 in December, Jatia added.
“I have projected that from the January onwards, things would look good for us. I am seeing consumption coming back and decent sentiment due to the vaccine. I am also seeing in-store business also comes back,” he said.
In December, the company’s in-store business was around 80-85 per cent, he added.
On being asked about the expansion, Jatia said the company opened three new stores in the last quarter and has plans to open new stores in this current quarter as well.
“We would continue our journey to open 25-30 restaurants from 2021-22,” Jatia added. Currently, Westlife Development operates 304 McDonald’s stores in 42 cities of the western and southern India.
“Around 60-70 per cent of new stores would come in the six key cities – Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad; and the rest 30 per cent into smaller towns,” he said.
The company plans to open stores in 2-3 new cities every year.