Global food and support services industry player Elior
has committed over 100 million euros in India as it looks to acquire local food caterers to institutions and corporates and expand into newer markets in the North.
It is also setting up a full-fledged centralised kitchen in Bengaluru's Whitefield to service technology clients such as Cisco, LinkedIn, Microsoft, and Visa. It also counts Godrej, Daimler, and Pfizer as clients, offering them customised food for their employees at offices and other units.
So far, since it entered the country with the acquisition of Bengaluru-based MegaBite Food Services
and purchased a majority stake in Chennai's CR Caterers India
Pvt Ltd (CRCL), Elior
has a presence in South and West India.
Servicing around 70 clients at 100 sites, it has over 3,500 people delivering 150,000 meals a day. "Our acquisition has gone up 70 per cent in the last six months," said Sanjay Kumar, CEO of Elior
India. "In South, we are bigger than both our competitors."
competes with global firms such as Sodexo and Britain's Compass Group as it looks to tap global and large Indian firms to help provide food for employees.
The Indian food industry is valued at $39.71 billion and is growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11 per cent. The food service industry is slated to reach $78 billion by 2018 and the contract catering market presents 23 per cent of the market opportunity.
The contract catering market in India was valued at $3.3 billion in 2015 and is growing at a CAGR of 16 per cent. It is a fragmented market with more than 2 million organised caterers.
"Increasingly, food is being looked at for safety. So, there is a need for organised players," added Kumar.
has been able to tap into Bengaluru's software product development industry as they look to use its services to provide and retain talent.
"Any company that wants to serve good food, we don't need to pitch, they call. Any company that wants standardised food, then there is tough competition," said Kumar.
In the standardised or industrial food segment, the requirement is to serve food at lower cost and contractors can lose business with a price difference of Rs 2 a meal. Whereas, in the model where clients look at premium food, the competition is lesser as they look for variety as well as quality.
"If somebody says that this is a data scientist who can produce an IP. Then they don't mind costs because for them food is critical as they want people to be happy in the workplace," said Kumar, adding, "Hundreds of companies
are out there who say I want to register my patent and this is not a back office anymore."
"India is one of the most promising markets with significant growth potential and a very fragmented profile. The combined acquisitions
of MegaBite and CRCL will position the group among the top three contract caterers in the Indian market," Philippe Salle, Elior
Group chairman and CEO, had said last year.
According to Salle, expanding into emerging markets is one of the company's objectives in its 2016-2020 strategic plan.