Delhi dining

Written by Shantanu David | Updated: Dec 2 2013, 01:58am hrs
I was in November 2012 that Nandos, the South African casual dining restaurant, started dishing out its chicken and chips cuisine in New Delhi from its Vasant Kunj outlet, the first in NCR. Since then the restaurant has seen an incessant queue of people trying to get their hands on the groups legendary chicken and its range of trademark sauces, dispensed freely tableside. While the debut outlets of brands like Starbucks had a similar influx of consumers, they subsequently ebbed. Nandos continues to ride the waves, not least because till very recently, it was the brands sole outlet in the region. Nandos recently opened at a second location in Cyber Hub, Gurgaon, and the demand for their peri-peri continues to be red hot.

Nandos has a great brand presence in the UK, Australia, Dubai and Singapore, which are four of the top destinations visited by Indians. When they come back from their holiday or business trip, they tend to recall the Nandos brand and experience. Plus, Nandos enjoys a lot of celebrity endorsement, right from Lady Gaga tweeting about how much she loves Nandos chicken, said Deepinder Batth, India spokesperson for Nandos, and CEO of Janpath Restaurants, which is the groups territorial franchisee. The restaurant chain is famous for its peri-peri chicken (available in halves, quarters and butterflied breasts), skewers, spicy rice dishes and, of course, their proprietary sauces.

The Delhi story has given the corporate office in South Africa a lot of confidence in India. We selected DLF Promenade in Vasant Kunj because of the well-travelled and informed clientele it gave us access to. It was also a great big space on a single floor, which allowed us to employ our theatre kitchen to full effect, an advantage some of the other outlets in other parts of the country havent been able to get, says Batth, adding that he and his team visited 117 sites over six months before finally picking the Vasant Kunj space. Emboldened by Delhis success, the group plans to open eight-ten more outlets in NCR by 2017-18, and 30-32 more pan-India. Apart from the space element, Delhi will be a key market, given that spicy chicken and Delhi doesnt require a lot of math.

The group emphasises on really fast casual dining with maximised efficiency and service, given the high volume of customers. Our supply chain is split into three major segments: intellectual property, which includes Nandos sauces and marinades; key property, which includes produce; and periphery property, which includes breads, buns and desserts, says Batth. The corporate office takes care of the first two segments and selects the vendor base, while the franchisees concentrate on sourcing periphery properties and the actual order execution. The pricing is done in consensus by a board, comprising both corporate and franchisee officers. At the moment, 50% of the products are imported, a figure Batth hopes will eventually whittle down. Thanks to the hit the rupee took against the dollar and our high amount of imported goods, our costs escalated and we had to absorb the losses. Once the brand becomes more consolidated, we can look at changing the dynamics of the supply chain and becoming more cost-efficient, says Batth. His hope is that once the brand has about 30-odd restaurants present in the market, Nandos can consider setting up a factory to locally manufacture their trademark products.