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Ambani sister brews huge Javagreen chain plan

Reeba Zachariah & Hemangi Balse  |  Mumbai 

Believe it or not, but the retail of a company that has nothing to do with the coffee business will be India's largest by the end of this year.
The Reliance group's Javagreen coffee retail chain, run by and brother-in-law B H Kothari, is in an expansion mode.
The number of Javagreen outlets will go up from the current 85 to 335 this year, when another 250 retail cafe shops will be rolled out. Over the next few years, the number of outlets will leap to over 2,000.
Cafe Coffee Day, the pioneers of the cafe concept in India in 1996 and part of the Bangalore-based Rs 300 crore Amalgamated Bean Coffee Trading Company, at present operates 172 cafes in 45 cities. This is likely to jump to 200 by December 2004.
Barista Coffee Company, now largely run by the Chennai-based Sterling group, is also ramping up its retail outlet numbers from the current 120 and intends to add 40-60 outlets across the country in the next 10-12 months. The first Barista outlet was set up in March 2000 in New Delhi.
Barista is also seeking to expand overseas. Even so, the Javagreen chain (335 outlets) will be much bigger than either Barista (180 outlets) or (200 outlets) by the end of this year.
Industry sources claim that the retail coffee shops are expected to grow along with Reliance's WebWorld stores which now house these cafes. At present, about 250 Reliance WebWorld are spread across 111 cities.
In response to a faxed questionnaire, a Reliance Infocomm spokesperson said: "Javagreen will also be rolled out as an independent format - through a combination of flagship stores, stand-alone cafes and other store-in-stores."
Reliance is positioning "Javagreen as a neighbourhood cafe, that is, fast, friendly and fun," the spokesperson said. The group also intends to open cafe shops at Reliance Industries' petrol pumps.
"We believe that coffee shop space in India is still maturing and there is space for all," the Reliance Infocomm spokesperson said that Javagreen provides its customers an international experience at Indian prices. Still, pricing has also been Cafe Cofee Day's unique selling proposition.
"We have a dedicated team of over 100 qualified F&B professionals, with expertise in products, maintenance, quality, training etc," the spokesperson added.
International global coffee chains too like Starbucks are said to be eyeing the Indian market. With no foreign direct investment allowed in this sector, they have adopted a wait and watch policy. They could enter the Indian market only by franchising their brand.


First Published: Thu, September 16 2004. 00:00 IST