The KFC has plans to increase its number of stores to 17 next year, says Hezal Ahmad, the CEO of KFC India.
"India is a very interesting market because of its people, their lifestyle, diverse cultures and incredible business opportunities. The earning potential is unlimited. Our expansion will initially concentrate in Mumbai and Pune, both in Maharashtra, before we venture into other states.
"We owe our success in Mumbai to its people who are very cosmopolitan and open to new ideas and food," said Johor-born Hezal in an interview with Bernama during a recent Malaysia Sports Day 2010.
The KFC brand was easily recognised and accepted, he said.
The people of Mumbai also appreciated the idea of self-service in restaurants. "The self-service concept is a new trend in India and is gaining ground. The customers in our stores can have full meals and not confine themselves to mere snacking," he said.
The KFC India, is in fact, doing better business than its parent company in Malaysia. "Mumbai is better than Kuala Lumpur or anyone else in Malaysia in terms of sales turnover of restaurant stores.
"KFC India employs about 300 workers, 90 per cent of whom are Indians and the remaining 10 per cent are Malaysians. We have brought here our 37 years of skills and expertise from Malaysia," he said.
India's cash-rich middle-class is discovering the advantages of convenience foods which are however not always beneficial to good health.
"The future is bright for us in India. The country is also self-sufficient as far as ingredients for food preparation are concerned. We don't have to rely on imports of ingredients, as is the case with Malaysia, and can source these in India itself.
"Of course, we have brought the equipment needed for preparation of food, but then that is a one-time expenditure. India's middle-class is growing, at present, at a much faster rate than in Southeast Asian countries," said Hezal.
KFC India buys chicken from Vanky's India Ltd in Pune and Godrej Food Ltd in Mumbai.
Asked if he had encountered any difficulties in adjusting to the people, the food and the environment, Hezal said there has been initially some problems resulting from the hot and fried Indian food which he was not accustomed to.
"There were also frustrations over transportation and red tape. It took us two weeks to open a simple corporate account with a local bank in Mumbai.
"Workers' productivity was another problem, though it has improved now," he added. -- Bernama and Business Times