Despite falling store sales, quick service restaurants (QSR) such as Subway, Pizza Hut, Dominos and Genuine Broaster Chicken are providing free food and drink to crowds standing outside ATMs and bank employees. For instance, franchisees of American fast-food restaurant Subway distribute their sandwiches to people in Mumbai and Odisha.
However, for experts, these brands are fishing in troubled waters. “You must be very careful. People are angry and even a small mistake could backfire. Firms shouldn’t distribute items of their brand. If brands want to do charity, they shouldn't show off,” said marketing consultant Harish Bijoor.
US-based firm Genuine Broaster Chicken wants to connect with Indians. It served lemon juice to the public queueing at Versova and Andheri. “The company will do the same in Raipur and Surat to demonstrate that the American brand cares about Indian sentiments,” said the GBC spokesperson.
Pizza Hut distributed free slices of pan pizzas with a glass of water at select branches across top six cities in India. Employees of another pizza chain Dominos served tea, coffee, water and snacks. “Our staffers also helped people in procuring bank forms and even gave them stationery items,” said Biplob Banerjee, executive vice-president, HR and CSR, Jubilant FoodWorks Limited.
The restaurants are otherwise experiencing a lull. Costa Coffee has shut down many loss-making stores. The net profit of Jubilant Foodworks, which operates Dunkin’ Donuts and Domino’s, fell 1.4% at ₹21.6 crore in the three months ended September 30 from ₹21.9 crore a year earlier.
Yum Brands, the owner of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, also reported a decline in store-level sales for the past 11 consecutive quarters. However, Yum’s last quarter results (July-September ’16) where KFC has noted system sales growth of 13%.