IHOP to Open First Restaurant in Gurgaon Early 2017

DIneEquity Inc, the parent company of the brand signs master franchise deal with Kwal Group and has already started constuction of the first restaurant which is slated to come up at DLF Cyberhub by March next year.

Photo Credit : Bikramjit Ray,

(L to R) Sameer Lamba, Managing Director, Kwal’s Group; and James G Cavalaris, Director-Development and Operations Asia/Pacific at DineEquity Inc.

IHOP, OR International House of Pancakes is arriving in India around March 2017. BW Hotelier spoke with Sameer Lamba, Managing Director of Kwal’s Group, the man with the master fanchise to the restaurant in North and South India, and James G Cavalaris, Director-Development and Operations Asia/Pacific at DineEquity Inc, IHOP's parent company, about the group's entry into India and their expansion and operation plans.

"We've taken the master franchise for IHOP in India and we are planning to open 20 restaurants in the next five years. We found an opportunity in a niche place where there was no really any great place serving American breakfasts and that's where we picked up from. We found a gap in the service standards, no great family restaurants," Lamba began by telling us, adding that the first restaurant was scheduled to open at DLF Cyberhub in Gurgaon and then another one at the IGI Airport, hopefully.

"It's better to be conservative in our expansion plans. Seeing the market scenario, our biggest feeling is on acceptability. My view is that a lot of brands have killed themselves by over expanding and opening too many outlets in the same locality, just running after numbers. We want each of our restaurants to make money and be sustainable," he added, when questioned about his cautious expansion plans.

"We want to be very careful and thoughtful in the first three or four (restaurants), after that I think we'll have enough experience to ramp up and do the remaining 16 in short order, depending on the availability of excellent sites," Cavalaris said. He added that the company had been looking to enter the market for a number of years.

"We had many interested candidates with interesting background, but honestly, aside from the business fit, it was a natural fit in business philosopy. His (Lamba's) approach to business. His values are very similar to DineEquity's, which is also very imporant," Cavalaris explained when asked why his company thought of now to get into the market with Kwal.

"The market is totally different now, not only from an infrastructure point of view. There's many more people that have lived and studied and travelled outside of India," Cavalaris, who first arrived in India in 1994 to set up the TGIF brand here, said about the change in the market. 

"In those days, we struggled in terms of supply chain. Just getting the right quality of ingredients. It was really a pleasant surprise that now we were able to source everything in country, not necessarily only local products, but something like Heinz ketchup, which was not available when we first came to India, is now in the market," he added. 

"Over the 20 restaurants we will end up spending around Rs 100 crores," Lamba said about the cost of setting up, clarifying that the company did not have a sub-franchise model, since it wasn't really a workable model in India. 

"We have already worked to vegetarianise the menu, our pancakes and waffles are eggless, other than that, we don't really have an issue with meat protiens on our menus," he added.

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