KFC eyes 500 restaurants in India by 2015

December 18th, 2011 - 2:56 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 18 (IANS) Putting behind violent protests against its entry in the mid-1990s, American restaurant chain Kentucky Fried Chicken, better known as KFC, has thrived on the growing fascination for fast food among the Indian middle class to chart a major expansion plan in the country through small-town penetration and innovative products.

Like its other American peers like Dominoes, Pizza Hut and McDonalds, this Louisville, Kentucky-based chain has also started tweaking its classical chicken recipes and introducing new ones like fiery grilled chicken and vegetarian dishes to suit Indian food habits.

KFC, which operates in 109 countries and claims to have more than 15,000 outlets around the world, expects to ramp up its restaurants in India to 500 by 2015, riding on eager and aspirational customers in its smaller cities.

“We are growing at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 70 percent. We already have 150-plus restaurants in 30-plus cities and are confident of reaching our target of 500 by 2015,” Dhruv Kaul, KFC India’s marketing director, told IANS on the expansion process that started in 2005.

“We’ll mainly expand within the metros, but also in cities like Durgapur, Calicut, Kochi and other tier-two towns. The reception we are receiving in new towns is very, very encouraging,” Kaul said.

There has been a series of launches this year that included popcorn chicken, cappuccino, crushers and vegetarian and chicken rissoles, apart from the fiery grilled chicken.

Speaking about the new product, he said it was developed entirely within the country and was six months in the making.

“It went through six months of rigorous testing and the feedback we received was extremely encouraging as the flavour was well liked. It has done extremely well in the 10 days since its launch,” Kaul said.

“It’s a fiery product based on the Indian palate,” he added.

Made with juicy chicken pieces, fiery grilled chicken is marinated and seasoned with a blend of herbs and spices, and then grilled to perfection via a unique ’steam roast’ process, developed specially for KFC.

Asked if the new product would find its way to other KFC restaurants in the South Asian region, Kaul did not rule this out.

“I can only speak for India but we have a robust exchange of ideas and products. We are inspired by the market and so I wouldn’t be surprised if this product even moves outside the region,” he said.

KFC had a rather shaky start in India, seeing violent protests from nationalists, farmers, health activists as well as animal rights activists that saw the vandalisation of its first outlet in Bangalore. The company has now put that behind and moved on.

(Vishnu Makhijani can be contacted at vishnu.makhijani@ians.in)

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