Brand Empire Continuing its Growth Trajectory

The food industry in India is one of the most dynamic industries. It is worth $41.3 billion today and growing at the CAGR of 11 per cent, it is expected to reach $68 billion by 2018. Although there is a huge gap between the organised and unorganised sectors in the industry, the opportunity for growth for the organised sector is immense.

The food industry in India is one of the most dynamic industries. It is worth $41.3 billion today and growing at the CAGR of 11 per cent, it is expected to reach $68 billion by 2018. Although there is a huge gap between the organised and unorganised sectors in the industry, the opportunity for growth for the organised sector is immense.

While the number of Indian consumers is increasingly dining out, the activity of 'eating out' has evolved from occasion driven to an occasion in itself. Urbane population's changing lifestyles, double-income households and food preferences are driving the growth patterns and helping the organised market grow.
The eating out habits of the populace, however, is seen in the maximum in the Casual Dining and QSR concept, as these two concepts dominate the organised Indian Food Service market. According to the National Restaurant Association of India's (NRAI) latest report, the Casual Dining and QSR concept has a 70 per cent share in the organised food market, followed by Fine Dining, Cafes, Pubs, Bars and Lounges etc.
This is the opportunity that has attracted the likes of International brands and leaders on the Global platform such as Burger King, Barcelos, Jamie Oliver, Carl's Junior, Taco Bell, Wendy's etc to India. Other leaders on the Global platform such as McDonald's, Subway, KFC, Dunkin' Donuts etc had known since a long time that they'll be popular among the masses in India, hence had entered some time ago.
Although there are a huge number of regional players in the country, much like their counterparts in the Western continents, but they lack efficiencies in business operation and processes. And while the International counterparts of Indian restaurants are running thousands of restaurants not only in their own land but also globally, the country's eating joints see operational efficiencies and processes as a challenge even though the opportunity is huge.
In all likelihood, corporate entities entering this segment are very less due to the complexity it entails and lack of business expertise. Today, customers' demands are: high quality, cleanliness, hygiene and good ambience. With economy indicating strong projections over the years to come, the challenge that the food industry faces is of replicating business. 

Empire is a chain of leading non-vegetarian restaurants, hotels and service apartments operating in Bengaluru and Dubai.
Started by a non-resident Indian from Malaysia, late Abdul Rahim, popular for his catering business, in 1966, Hotel Empire began operations from a small restaurant on Central Street, Shivaji Nagar in the Garden City of India. The brand took a remarkable turn in terms of service and business under the present management that took over in the early Eighties.
With a strong operating infrastructure and a centralised kitchen, all of Empire's outlets are in the company-owned model and have a breakeven track of less than 2 years. Boasting of a strong foothold with a total of 20 outlets across Bengaluru today, the brand has a total seating capacity of 5,000 and a total of 150 rooms. Most of the outlets are of 3,500 sq ft area and have 2-3 floors with 200-300 seats capacity.
In an exclusive tête-à-tête with Junaiz K, CMD and Founder, Loyal Hospitality, the exclusive Master Franchise of Brand Empire, Retailer Media discussed about the brand's vision, expansion and future plans. Recently, Empire entrusted Loyal Hospitality with an exclusive Master Franchise rights to expand pan India.

"The Key Is Not To Enter An Existing Market But To Create A Market"

Tell us about your brand and its vision.
We are a team of professionals who aim to offer a vast culinary experience to our customers while maintaining uniformity and quality. Brand Empire is now an opportunity and the promoters of Empire are comfortable with me expanding across the country through Loyal Hospitality, since I have been with Empire for over two decades as COO and GM. This way they will neither lose their credibility, nor be threatened of their Intellectual Property Rights.
Empire is well-known for volumes not profits. The force behind Empire in the last two decades is late NKP Abdul Haq, along with his brothers KPC Mohammed Kunhi and NKP Abdul Azeez.

What prompted you to take up the Master Franchise of Empire?
Empire has created a niche for itself with most of its outlets predominantly in Bengaluru. Promoters of Empire restricted their business in Bengaluru, but were also very keen in expanding pan-India via the franchise model. However, they had reservations. One was to not let the quality of the brand name be tarnished in anyway by the sub franchisees.

What makes your brand's name in the market unique? Share its USP.
Every time we opened a new restaurant, experts said we don't have a market in Bengaluru. However, the key is not to enter an existing market but to create a market over there. When you have a strong product hold and stringent processes, you need not worry much. Our USP is offering quality and hygienic food to suit any pallet in a fine dining ambience at an affordable price. Our customers need not wait too long; even if they pop in at the oddest hour, we still prepare fresh food and serve them in flat 15 minutes.

What kind of marketwould you like to explore for further roll out?
When Empire started the Koramangala branch in 2006; it was an isolated place with hardly any eatery around. Today, there are close to 600 eateries there, making it one of the biggest food hubs in India. As we do a research before starting, our brand today is considered as a crowd puller. In the South, we are looking at expanding in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Hyderabad; and are focusing on Delhi and Maharashtra in the Northern region.

Tell us about your new business venture, Loyal Hospitality?
Loyal Hospitality is built to accomplish a mission to bridge the gap between the organised and the unorganised sectors in the food Industry. Our management team consists of highly qualified professionals from IIM as our strategic and financial advisors, chartered accountant as Independent Director to control our finances and other professionals.
Food too has seen a way to reach its customers through the virtual keyboard, mobiles and has seen some amazing apps like DineOut, Rancelab etc. What's your take on it?
Technical collaboration is one of the strengths of Empire. We have our own app since 2 years. We currently do 50,000 home deliveries a month and it is expected to triple in 2 years. We are associated with all the major food apps, too, which includes Zomato, Food Panda and Swiggy to name a few. The percentage of orders we get from the online space is 30-35 per cent, of the total delivery.
How are you planning to expand?
We are looking at a turnover of Rs 1,000 crore by 2020-21, after having opened a minimum of 125 branches across the country.
As food is the hot topic among Investors today, what are your plans to raise funds?
We would raise Rs 400 crore in tranches. We are in the advanced stages of discussions with super HNI's and premium corporate companies to close in the deal shortly.
So, are you looking for franchisee tie-ups in this space? If yes, then what
kind of association are you looking at?
We follow the FOFO (Franchisee owned and Franchisee operated) model of business and looking for Investors. Loyal Hospitality is offering equity stake to our investors to partner with us in this journey. However, we will explore on our core expertise, which is operational know how, our forte..!
What is in it for the investor and how will you use the invested money to scale up?
Funds raised in tranches would be used to expand rapidly across five states over a period of five years.  We are confident with the distinctive cuisine we offer, there is no doubt our expansion will be a great success.
NKP Abdul Aziz
MD, Empire Group of Hotels and Chief Mentor, Loyal Hospitality
"At first, we were reserved to offer a franchise of Empire. Post our success, there were queries coming from across the globe for that. Our offering in the menu is complex, and with more than 300 items, maintaining consistency in quality and taste was a big challenge across geographical locations.
We were convinced with the vision of Loyal Hospitality. And the primary reason which prompted us to offer exclusive franchisee to Loyal Hospitality (LH) is because its CMD and Founder Junaiz is associated with us for over the last two decades and has a complete understanding about functional operation of our outlets.
Having seen Junaiz from the time he started his career with us, his determined persona with a great commitment for the organisation is commendable. I'm sure under his leadership, LH will achieve great heights."

Late NKP Abdul Haq (Former CMD,) Empire Goup of Hotels in fond memories indebted to his contribution to brand Empire and under his able headship, Empire
has seen remarkable growth in the last two decades.
He always insisted that business is all about ethics; and customers are to be treated with great commitment, honesty and sincerity. Here's what he believed in:
HIS WORDS: "Keep the items affordable, but never compromise on the quality. Employees should always be treated fairly;
be stringent on the face but have a heart full of compassion. Don't compromise on ethics and never be biased towards your employees and suppliers. Always respect vendors for their contributions; never keep pending payments even if it were to be a single rupee."
He was one of the first persons who believed in Loyal Hospitality, the very moment the proposal was put forward, he approved it almost instantly. Today, at Empire, his words are 'Corporate Code' for all the two thousand employees. We promise from Empire, to live up to his words in the society and to all our customers.

"Our team with unique values and culture will demonstrate that regional brands can go global."
Firdos Khan, COO, Executive Director, Loyal Hospitality
"Our Management team stands apart with business acumen, foresight and strategic alignment. We will collaborate our resources to create value for our Investors and offer value to our customers."
N Muthuraman,
IIMB, Strategic Advisor, Loyal Hospitality
"With strong fundamentals, our intent is to provide quality without any compromise."
Joint Managing Director, Loyal Hospitality
"We know what it takes to achieve a Rs.1000 Crore turnover in five years. We will make opportunistic acquisitions to build our equity position."
V Satheesh, IIMB, Finance Advisor, Loyal Hospitality
"It's challenging to play a lead role in accelerating strategic growth for LH. Our advantage is competitive, streamlined and revenue proven."
Asim Haider Ali
CA, Independent Director
Loyal Hospitality
"Our "MOTTO" is to both uniformly and consistently build a company that exceeds the expectations of our customers, team and shareholders."
C Mustafa
DHMCT, Chief Marketing Officer
Loyal Hospitality"We maximise the engagement of people by providing solutions for acquiring, developing, retaining talent and being a trusted business partner."
Michael Johnson,
CAO, Loyal Hospitality

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