Beef-free Wendy's enters the Indian market

Wendy’s is the latest to join India’s burgeoning burger scene, with its first site opening 6 May


Like other franchised brands before it, Wendy’s is having to adapt before it takes on the majority-vegetarian and almost entirely beef-free Indian market. Its new restaurants will be beef-free and will feature a number of additional vegetarian options. This, says Rajat Rialch, an FCSI member and principal consultant at HPG consulting, is a necessity to survive in this challenging market.

He says, “The earlier players have adjusted to the need of the market. McDonalds in India does not serve ham or beef burgers, but they do serve veggie burgers. Similarly, Pizza Hut in India serves chicken tandoori pizza and Dominos is the same. Wendy’s have to do menu engineering to service in this cut throat market.”

The franchisee, Sierra Nevada Restaurants Limited, has been formed in a joint venture between UK based international franchise management company

Its rollout will be rapid. The first store will open this week in Gurgaon, India’s financial centre, followed by three more in the Delhi National Capital Region this summer, and up to 20 in Northern India over the next few years, the company said in a statement.

The franchisee, Sierra Nevada Restaurants, is a joint venture between a British management company, International Market Management, and India-based Rollattainers, which is also responsible for the rollout of Jamie’s Italian in India.

In a statement, reported in the Times of India, the company said it had worked with the Wendy’s team for “almost two years”, developing a new menu, new restaurant designs and new approaches to customer service.

India’s QSR market is experiencing a “huge development” in QSR formats, says Rialch. Technopak advisors, a market research firm, values the market at $48bn, expected to grow to $78bn by 2018.

“The last few years have seen the entry of Burger King, Fat Burger, Johnny Rocket, Pizza Express, Au Bon Pain, Dunkin Doughnuts and even a few home-grown chains have also started scaling new heights. It’s an exciting phase in the Indian food service industry,” says Rialch.

And, he adds, there is still significant room for growth in the Indian market. “No one can afford to miss India. It is a perfect market for any growth story focused on the mass market. This is being supported by the exposure of Indians to quality brands and food habits being changed in line with global shifts.”

Ellie Clayton