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The Third Largest US Pizza Chain is Here to Give Competition to Dominos in India

Taking the franchising way, many global brands are entering the Indian market given India's huge population and of course, our love to eat out

There are very few things that everyone loves to eat and pizza tops the list. When there’s cheese and meat involved, can one really complain? Given the Indians’ love for pizzas, it is no surprise that international brands are reaching out to the Indian market to set up shop here.

Taking the franchising way, many global brands are entering the Indian market given India’s huge population and of course, our love to eat out.

America’s third largest Pizza Chain Little Caesars is looking at entering the Indian market. Started in 1959 by Mike Ilitch and his wife Marian Ilitch, they are famous for their affordable quality pizzas and their marketing strategies which had the attention of the world.

Entrepreneur India caught up with Bill Schreiber, Vice President of International Development, Little Caesars, as he spoke about how the India market has been on their eyes for a long time now.

Pizza! Pizza!

It’s not just their tagline Pizza! Pizza! that sold their pizzas like hot cakes, making them one of the leading players in the pizza restaurant space in America. Schreiber believes that their great value proposition of bringing quality pizza at affordable rates is what sets them apart. “It’s great for families that want to eat out at an affordable price and at the same time get a superior product,” he said.

With great community outreach programs like Love Kitchen (pizza on the wheels) or veterans program where they provide incentives to honourably discharged veterans looking to open their own business, helped them put together a wider audience for themselves.

India, Finally

While it started in 1959, they have grown to be present in 25 countries (every state in the United States) and over 5,000 restaurants. Schreiber admits that their India expansion has long been on the cards and they have done an incredible amount of research that helped them understand the market better. “People just think that India is one huge market. But no. There’s South, North, West and East and all have different tastes. What we have done now is strategically mark the locations where the brand expansion makes sense and are aggressively looking for area developers to develop the brand,” he said.

Talking about how franchising in the food industry is not an easy task, Schreiber said, “Lot of people think opening a restaurant is simple but it’s not. It takes planning, making sure that you have the right people, location, supply chain and then it becomes easier to execute. But it’s never easy because it takes hard work.”

Tweaking their Style for India

Planning their India entry, Schreiber doesn’t hold back to say that their taste in India might just be different. For example, while the main ingredients will remain the same the toppings for India will change and their R&D team is already working on it. “There will be some toppings here that we probably don’t use anywhere else in the world, like curry chicken,” he said.

They are even looking at changing the size of the pizza because “India doesn’t eat the way US does”.

However, Schreiber predicts incredible growth for India and says that in the next 20 years, they can even match up to Dominos’ expansive presence in the country.

Tips On How to Maintain Consistency, Discipline & Flavors Across a Restaurant Chain

The ideal restaurant franchise formulae is having a consistency is services and ambience across all the brands outlets.

Entrepreneur India spoke to Ashish Saxena is currently leading investments of TVS Capital in the food and beverage space. Ashish is the CEO for TexMex Cuisine which own and operates Chili’s American Grill & Bar in West and South India.

Maintaining Consistency Across Restaurant Franchises

The brand has standardized the processes for everything, whether there is a process for cooking, building food alignment or standard presentation. All these aids are available to the team in the kitchen and this helps us work smoothly in a tough market where training and retaining quality manpower is a big challenge, Ashish said. Second thing that plays an important role is the kitchen equipment that we use

The Chili’s business has grown 3 fold in sales over the past two years through a mix of strong same store growth and opening of 3 new stores, the company said. Ashish is also actively supporting TVS Capital for opportunities to invest further in this sector.

Selecting a restaurant location

For us, 70 percent of our sale comes from food, therefore we look for places where there is a natural footfall that already exists. If you have footfall existing in that place then it becomes easier for people to come across and try our menu and start developing a taste for it. We are not a destination fine dine, hence we can’t get people to come all the way to dine at our outlets. We love being in malls, high streets, where we know that there is going to be crowd flow.

Secondly, we are a brand where people would like to come in and out frequently. Hence access has to very smooth, it cannot be a second floor or a third floor of a building. We like to be on the ground floor with the frontage where we would like to show the brand and invite a person in, that is something which is ingrained in our DNA, Ashish said.