The renowned name in the Food and Beverage industry, Lite Bite Foods is a high growth start up venture. Amit Burman, Vice Chairman, Dabur India Ltd and Chairman, Lite Bite Foods talks about the setting up of Lite Bite Foods and its expansion plans
Neha Malhotra (NM): What inspired you to venture into the food retailing business?
Amit Burman (AB): Food has always been an area close to my heart. Even with Dabur, when I decided to venture out and start something new, my preference was to enter the food space. And that’s how Dabur Foods was born, where we introduced packaged fruit juices and culinary pastes. Later, when I set out to explore newer growth avenues outside Dabur, I saw a significant opportunity in the F&B services category of the organised retail sector. As I went along the journey, I came across a number of like-minded partners who shared the same vision as I. So, we agreed to pool in our resources and become a pure-play, focussed F&B operator.
NM: When and how did Lite Bite Foods come into being?
AB: Lite Bite is a recently established high-growth venture specifically focussed on Food & Beverages services retailing sector, with formats ranging from Quick Service Restaurants (QSR), Casual Dining (CDR) and express outlets to entire food-courts, with a brand portfolio of leading international and local concepts. I am a shareholder in Lite Bite in my personal capacity, along with Rohit Aggarwal and Tejpavan Gandhok.
We have already finalised a strategic alliance with PVR Cinemas, wherein Lite Bite will manage food courts on behalf of PVR Cinemas. Lite Bite has also established a joint venture with the Eat Out Group, a part of Spain’s leading business house Agrolimen to establish a chain of specialty restaurants across India. The Eat Out group is one of Europe’s leading restaurant groups and own brands such as FrescCo, Pans&Company, Bocatta, and Fresh & Ready. This venture would mark Eat Out’s entry into India.
In addition, Lite Bite Foods has formed a separate strategic joint venture with the father-son team ofJiggs Kalra and Zorawar Kalra which will focus initially on three key SBUs of Indian QSR, casual and fine dining and gourmet event catering services.
NM: How many outlets do you have at present under all the formats?
AB: Lite Bite today operates the food court at Ambience Mall (Gurgaon) under the Food Union brand. We have two high-street food courts under the Food Union Clix brands in Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar and East of Kailash, eight Street Foods of India outlets across Delhi-NCR, and one outlet each of FrescCo and Punjab Grill in Gurgaon.
NM: What kind of retail spaces are you looking at?
AB: As mentioned earlier, Lite Bite is expanding its presence across Delhi-NCR in the first step, we are preparing to enter Mumbai this quarter. We are also in the process of setting up highway food courts across the major highways emanating from Delhi. With standalone restaurants, we are looking at both - airports and quality malls, with good footfalls.
NM: India is a price sensitive market. According to you, how important a role does price play to attract customers?
AB: That’s right, India is a highly price sensitive market. And that’s exactly why the eating-out business at value-for-money outlets is thriving, even as 5-Star F&B outlets are witnessing a slump in demand. People are still spending on dining out with family and friends, but they are increasingly picking value outlets over 5-Star outlets. So, price does play a very important role.
NM: What is your vision for the future?
AB: We have big plans for the F&B retail market. Lite Bite will invest around Rs 200 crore to establish a pan-India network of over 200 restaurants. And I am confident that Lite Bite will, in days to come, emerge as the Indian McDonald’s in the F&B industry with a footprint that would cover the length and breadth of the Atlas. We are already firmly moving ahead on this path with our brand ‘Street Foods of India’ - an innovative concept in the quick service restaurant business with a unique collection of Indian cuisines, ranging from lucknawi galouti kebabs to Amritsari kulchas, from Mumbai’s bhel puri to Chennai’s masala dosa and Delhi’s rajma chawal. In a few years, you would see branded Street Foods of India outlets lining the streets of every major city across the globe, treating the world audience to the best food that Indian streets have to offer.