Saturday, February 27, 2021

You want fries with that? Burger King’s India franchise pulls off whopper IPO

In the pandemic, hygiene-aware customers are choosing cheaper meals and faster delivery options.

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Shares in Burger King India more than doubled on its first day of trading on Monday in Mumbai.

The company, which owns the exclusive rights to launch and operate Burger King restaurants in Asia’s second most populous nation after China, raised 8.1 billion rupees (about US$110 million) in the IPO.

The IPO benefitted from the company already being a well-known brand globally and in India.

As pandemic restrictions devastate incomes and raise concerns over sanitation, a growing number of Indians are switching to cheap and clean fast-food chains.

India has the second-highest number of cases at nearly 10 million after the US, and people are reluctant to dine out and are switching to outlets that offer take-out and home delivery services.

Fast-food chains are a well-established concept in India now thanks to early entrants such as McDonald’s and KFC.

When McDonald’s launched in India in the mid-1990s, it had to adjust its prices and menu to attract consumers in a very price-sensitive market.

Local menu tweaks like introducing vegetarian options and replacing beef with more popular chicken created brand loyalty.

Another company that has grown along with the burger sector is condiment supplier Mrs Bector’s Food, which is due to have its market debut on Tuesday.

Burger King launched in India in 2015 and today has 268 in 57 cities. It has about 5% of the country’s so-called quick service restaurant market.

Although the global giant is still not profitable in India, financial experts expect that to change.

Burger King India plans to use some of the IPO funds to expand its network to about 300 restaurants by the end of next year and at least 700 locations by the end of 2026.

But the chain faces stiff competition. Other Western fast-food brands battling to win customers in India include Wendy’s, Domino’s and Subway.

This month, Wendy’s announced it would push further into the country, with plans to open 150 new outlets and 250 cloud kitchens which make food just for home delivery.

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