After 15 years of focusing on the southern markets, Malaysian fast food chain Marrybrown is turning to the rest of India. The chain plans to expand to the north and west to chart its growth story.
Marrybrown introduced the concept of burgers and fried chicken to Chennai in 1999.
That was well after KFC, as part of the then-Pepsico Restaurants International, opened shop in Bangalore in 1995, and was targeted in what was seen as a drive against unwelcome multinationals back then. But by 1999, MNC fast food chains had taken off.
Marrybrown entered India after signing an exclusive franchisee agreement with Chennai-based MGM Group. The group has business interests in logistics, hospitality, international trading, housing and distillery.
To fuel its country-wide expansion, Marrybrown is planning to get a brand ambassador, likely to be from sports for the youth connect.
Stating that the brand's USP is its localised flavour (it also sells the Indian rice dish, biryani), S Ajith, director, Marrybrown India, says its 'hot touch spicy version' of fried chicken has worked too.
Of Marrybrown's total menu mix, 65 per cent is fried chicken, while the balance comprises biryani and burgers. Initially, fried chicken constituted only 40 per cent but as the chain entered tier-II and III towns, demand for fried chicken grew, adds Ajith. The demand for biryani has also pulled the share of burger down, he says.
Marrybrown plans to offer more local products and add vegetarian dishes to the menu soon.
Ajith plans to draw from his earlier stint with KFC (now part of Yum! Brands) to take the number of Marrybrown outlets to 100 in the next three years. That is an ambitious target for a largely conservative company. So far, it has only 48 outlets, despite entering smaller towns.
Ajith cites the 12-year delay in KFC's entry into Chennai. KFC, after antagonistic lobbying when it had entered Bengaluru, had to maintain a low key, sans promotions and with just one store. It was only in 2004 that it began to spread wings. However, Marrybrown did not have to face the anti-MNC ire as by the time of its entry, McDonald's, Dominos and even KFC's sister brand, Pizza Hut, were doing brisk business across India.
Marrybrown, according to Ajith, had to sort out its supply chain and human resources to expand. "Southern markets, especially Tamil Nadu, are conservative. We have succeeded here, and now with this learning, we will expand," says Ajith.
Around Rs 60-80 lakh will be needed for a 1,500-sq-ft standalone outlet, while a food-court stall (200-sq-ft) will need Rs 40-50 lakh.
The brand is planning to take the brand to schools and colleges by participating in their festivals and carnivals, part of its brand spends of three-four per cent of revenue.
Marrybrown follows a franchisee-led model. It is also betting on e-commerce, which contributes 600-1,000 orders over the last six months, says Ajith.