New wave of burger chains look to enter India

Indian connoisseurs of premium burgers could soon have the option of buying organic burgers as a new wave of chains are looking to enter the market.

Elevation Burger, which sells organic burgers, and MOOYAH Burgers Fries & Shakes, known for its handmade milk shakes and customised, high-end burgers, are considering opening stores here. “These will be premium burgers, costing Rs 500, in fast casual dining concept and will target a different kind of consumers,” said a person familiar with their plans.

They differentiate themselves in terms of the meat used: It is ground in-house or the patty is made fresh every day. They will also offer customised burgers with high quality toppings, a variety of cheese and sauces. Chicken burgers, for instance, will have higher content of the meat (90 per cent) against the 30 per cent in other entry-level burgers.

Both chains are looking to open 25-35 outlets over the next five years, and are looking to appoint a master franchisee in India. These outlets will come up in metros like Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, and Pune, with Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru likely to have five stores each.

“The economy is growing and the younger generation like to go out and enjoy themselves in restaurants and international brands can do well,” says Lee Wyne, vice-president, MENAFEX, the master franchisor for MOOYAH in many markets, including around Asia. “The market appears much more price conscious than in West Asia, so we need to do our homework and not assume what works in the US or West Asia will necessarily work in India.”

The Indian quick service restaurants (QSR) market stands at $2 billion (about Rs 13, 342 crore) and is likely to double in the next five years. Brands like KFC, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Dominos have expanded well in the bottom to middle of the pyramid. “In the burger space, there are brands that are now looking to tap the next level of growth in the premium segment such as Johnny Rockets, Carl’s Junior, and Fatburger,” says Salman Siddiqui, chief executive officer, Elevation Burger.

Johnny Rockets plans to open 20 outlets in India in the next five years. Barcelos, Nando’s, Johnny Rockets, and Carl’s Jr are already here and sell burgers priced between Rs 250 and Rs 550 (Barcelos, Nando’s).

“We understand that there is a lot of opportunity in this space, and we have a unique offering that can create a point of differentiation in the market,” Siddiqui said in an email interview. “We are the fastest growing organic meat burger chain with great taste, and offer hand-spun shakes,” he said.

“Real growth will come after five years, when economies of scale kick in and the supply chain is in place,” says Venus Barak, vice-president, Franglobal, which helps global brands appoint a master franchisee.

Elevation Burger operates in markets such as México, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.

MOOYAH has 100 outlets in the US, Canada, Mexico and Azerbaijan, among others, and hopes to enter India next year. It, too, is looking for a master franchisee that has a passion for the brand and a like-minded belief in finding good real estate, investing in people, serving quality food at a fair price, and a long-term vision for the business.

“We want to partner with someone who wants to create a win-win relationship with us, where we both succeed by doing things right in the long run,” says Wyne.

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