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Big catching up to do for new players, looking beyond non-metros for growth: Barista CEO Agrawal on growing competition

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The homegrown coffee chain brand, which last month opened its 350th store in India in Udaipur (Rajasthan), also looks to reach the count of 500 stores in the coming two years

New Delhi: Unfazed by the growing competition from new players as well as international chains, coffee house Barista is now looking beyond metro cities for expanding its footprint and drive growth, according to its chief executive officer Rajat Agrawal.

From coffee giants Tim Hortons, Tata Starbucks, the recently opened ‘Pret A Manger’ to local coffee-related startups like Blue Tokai, Sleepy Owl and Rage Coffee, everyone seems to be betting big on the growing coffee culture in the traditionally tea-drinking nation.

However, the Barista chief executive officer says that there is a “large level of catch-up” that has to be done by new players as the country’s second-largest integrated coffee house with a presence in over 100 cities is growing at a rapid pace.

The homegrown coffee chain brand, which last month opened its 350th store in India in Udaipur (Rajasthan), also looks to reach the count of 500 stores in the coming two years.

“Now that we are already 350th, we are much above or far in terms of our number of stores presence. We have already outgrown some of the newer brands which have just come in. There is a large level of catch up which has to be done. We are also growing at a certain rapid pace with about 60-70 outlets per year,” Agrawal told PTI in an exclusive interview.

Incepted in 2000, Barista, which for many was among the first brands that introduced Indians to the truly Italian coffee experience, is now looking “beyond metros” where they have been successfully operating over the past two decades.

In fact, the brand is already witnessing a lot of “new growth” happening for them in the non-metros in the last two-three years.

“The way the infrastructure is getting developed in the country and the way people are travelling, now, even non-metros people are very educated about what they are consuming and a branded product is always an aspirational value so again there is a certain cheque size which you can command even in a non-metro city which about 10 years back was something alien to you,” Agrawal explained.

He also spilled beans on the huge gulf between the average consumption of coffee in India and Western countries, and said India’s coffee culture, which has only started to pick up in the “last 6-7 years”, has a “huge potential” for every player to grow.

The average Indian drinks barely “100 grams” of coffee per year in comparison to the “12 kg” per annum by a person living in Western countries, informed Agrawal.

“You see the catch up which India has to do to be even closer to some of the international market dynamics, that’s where we see the huge potential for all of us to grow and the industry to evolve in the near future,” he added.

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