Eleven American foodservice companies are embarking on a trade mission this week to India in search of franchisees.
They will be joined on the U.S. Commercial Service’s first-ever franchise-focused trip to India by franchisors in other industries along with a handful of reporters, including Nation’s Restaurant News’ Bret Thorn.
The foodservice companies on the trip range from casual-dining giant Applebee’s International Inc., with more than 2,000 locations, to BannaStrow’s Crepes and Coffee, a four-unit operation based in Miami.
Also scheduled to be on the trip are representatives from Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. parent CKE Restaurants Inc.; Focus Brands Inc., which franchises Cinnabon, Carvel Ice Cream, Schlotzky’s Deli, Moe’s Southwest Grill and Auntie Anne’s Pretzel’s; casual-dining burger specialist Johnny Rockets Group; fast-casual Caribbean-themed grilled chicken concept Pollo Tropical; dessert chain Rita’s Italian Ice; Wendy’s/Arby’s Group Inc.; fast-casual sandwich chain Which Wich; and casual dining Wing Zone.
FOLLOW THE TRIP
NRN’s Bret Thorn will be reporting on the trip’s progress, with interviews of potential franchisees and franchisors, information on the investment climate in the cities franchisors are visiting, and more. Follow his reports and observations on NRN.com, as well as on his blog, Food Writer’s Diary, and Twitter (hashtag #nrninIndia).
The U.S. Commercial Service said the trip to India is intended to “help participating firms gain market insight, make industry contacts, solidify business strategies, and advance specific projects, with the goal of increasing U.S. business in India.”
Although much of the world continues to suffer from economic malaise, India’s economy is growing by about 8 percent per year and the country already has a middle class of more than 300 million people — about the size of the entire population of the United States, according to the U.S. Commercial Service, a division of the federal Department of Commerce.
The agency said the “organized food and beverage retail sector” in India is worth $280 million and is growing by between 25 percent and 30 percent annually, with franchising accounting for 17 percent of that growth.
U.S. foodservice sales, by comparison, are expected to exceed $600 billion in 2011, according to the National Restaurant Association.
Kristin Houston, a senior international trade specialist for the U.S. Commercial Service, said small and medium-sized companies paid $4,185, plus transportation, lodging and other expenses, to go on the trip to India, and large companies paid $4,885.
For that fee, the U.S. Commercial Service advertised in publications in the three cities the mission is visiting — Mumbai, Hyderabad and New Delhi — inviting local entrepreneurs who have $1 million to $10 million in investment funds to apply for one-on-one meetings with the American companies.
The Commercial Service also set up meetings in those cities for each of the American companies with applicants who were vetted both by the U.S. government and by the franchisors.
Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected].