KFC goes curry, vegetarian to bounce back in India

Mumbai, Jan. 6 -- If you thought Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) largely boasted of chicken with a familiar American bland taste, you may be in for a surprise this year. With profit on its mind, it's putting curry among its flavours.

Keen to woo spice-loving Indians, the global restaurant chain that has had a chequered run in India since starting out more than 15 years ago is widening its menu for the Indian palate - while making it all more affordable.

The Yum! Brands subsidiary plans to fire up its vegetarian offerings in 2013 with more veg burgers at value-for-money as well as premium ranges, in addition to rolls and twisters.

This is part of an expansion plan under which the company is looking to more than double its store count to 500 by 2015 from the current 230.

The Kentucky-headquartered firm is looking to use its strategy to counter the likes of McDonalds and Domino's to whom it has been losing out in the Rs.10,000-crore organised quick service restaurant space.

"Consumer research showed that there is a larger need to introduce vegetarian offerings," said Tarun Lal, general manager, KFC India.

"Our strategy in India is to introduce vegetarian offerings and make it affordable."

The company hopes this will help it compete with McDonald's, but refused to give any numbers.

Introducing vegetarian options has been on KFC's radar for a sometime now.

Infact, when the company entered the vegetarian heartland of Gujarat in November 2011 with its first restaurant, it reworked its menu to include vegetarian cuisine as well.

Encouraged by the response, KFC plans to add five more stores in the state this year.

A number of KFC's new stores will be opened in smaller town and cities such as Bareilly, Rudrapur, Allahabad, Aligarh, Aurangabad, Belgaon and Hubli.

"We are bullish about growth from smaller cities as we have seen tremendous response. While KFC is a Rs.1,000 crore business, the revenue is growing at 35-40% year-on-year. A lot will come from smaller cities," said Lal.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.