After a protracted battle and years of uncertainty over franchise rights for McDonald’s outlets in North and East India, Sanjeev Agarwal, chairman of Delhi-based MM Agarwal Group, has emerged a winner.
Agarwal, 55, will now be responsible for operations at over 160 outlets for the American burger giant in the two markets that are considered the largest (North) and fastest growing (East) in the country’s consumer goods space.
Together, with McDonald’s, he will be focused on “modernising our restaurants, enhancing digital consumer engagement, and offering more personalised service and menu items tailored to their local flavor,” said Barry Sum, director of corporate relations for McDonald’s in Asia.
“Agrawal has a strong understanding and passion for the McDonald’s brand, insights into the local market, and a proven track record of driving quality and innovation in the food and beverage and hospitality industries. He is the right strategic partner for McDonald’s to grow our brand presence in North and East India,” he said.
Founded in 1964 as Superior Group of Industries by former Member of Parliament-Rajya Sabha late M M Agarwal, it got its current name after 2006. As Agarwal, the elder son of M M, took over the reins after his father’s demise, he gave it a new name. Today the group’s interests are spread across diverse sectors — from hotels and colas to offshore services for oil and gas industry.
It forayed into the food and beverages space in 1987, when the group set up Moon Beverages to bottle drinks for India’s cola king Ramesh Chauhan. The firm that MM Agarwal Group terms as its ‘flagship company’ for beverages business began bottling Thums Up, Limca, Maaza, Gold Spot, RimZim, and Bisleri for Chauhan’s Parle Group.
Later, in 1994, following Coca-Cola’s re-entry into the local market, Moon Beverages became the authorised bottler of the cola giant and is manufacturing and distributing drinks like Coca-Cola, Limca, Sprite, Maaza, Thums Up, Fanta, Minute Maid, Coke Zero, and Kinley. It works as a co-packer with Coke through another company — Hindustan Aqua — which bottles Coca-Cola beverages.
While MM had laid the foundation of the group, it is in fact Agarwal who is credited for its success in the fast-moving consumer goods space. Moreover, Agarwal is associated with the brand Coca-Cola more closely than his father. After completing his Masters in commerce from Kanpur University, he went on to complete his Master of Business Administration from Coca-Cola University at Atlanta. According to his profile on the group’s website, “he was instrumental in establishing the state-of the-art plant of the carbonated soft drink under franchisee agreements with Coca-Cola Inc, US, at Kanpur, Sahibabad, Greater Noida, and Rourkela”.
Last December, Moon acquired rights to further bottle and market Coke’s beverages from its three company-owned plants — in Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh, or UP), Ghaziabad (UP) and Jammu (Jammu & Kashmir) — against ~500 crore. Together, the two group entities today operate at least six plants across North India and are the largest bottler for fizzy drinks in the region.
MM, who won his maiden Rajya Sabha seat from UP as an Independent candidate in 2000, expanded his business into offshore exploration services in 1998 by setting up HAL Offshore. That year, the firm bagged operation and management contract for Oil and Natural Gas Corporation-owned MSV Samudra Suraksha and later several more contracts from the public sector undertaking.
In 2006, the group forayed into the business of education by setting up Ishwarchand Vidya Sagar Institute of Technology in Mathura, providing various engineering and management courses.
Its interests in the hospitality sector are concentrated in ITC Fortune Park — a four-star hotel in Ahmedabad under the ITC brand — that it operates.