DecCafé Coffee Day, India's largest coffee café chain, has opened its first outlet in Pakistan's commercial capital Karachi. This makes the chain possibly the first Indian coffee chain to open an outlet there.
The company will be doing business there through a local franchise partner.
"We have selected one of the country's leading and reputed business families and it is easier to do business there that way as it's not possible to go there directly," Café Coffee Day director Naresh Malhotra told IANS in an interview.
He, however, refused to name the family, as the business house has not yet officially declared the partnership.
The outlet is located at Karachi's swish Zamzama Commercial Area, famous for its classy eateries and designer boutiques.
Reasoning why he chose Pakistan to other neighbouring countries, Malhotra averred: "Pakistan, like India, is also primarily a tea-drinking nation and coffee has also become a lifestyle statement for them.
"Moreover, the Pakistan coffee market is vast and matured having immense potential for growth, unlike, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal. And more than anything else, all of these three countries are going through a period of strife right now which is not feasible for carrying out business."
Café Coffee Day, part of the Amalgamated Bean Trading Company, plans to open foure café lounges in Karachi and also expand to other cosmopolitan Pakistani cities of Islamabad and Lahore by 2007.
The lounges also offer a wide variety of snacks, like chicken tikka sandwich, spicy mutton kebab rolls and many other munchies similar to those offered in their Indian cafes.
"Pakistan being an Islamic country does have restrictions. They cannot really have pubs and discotheques and hence teenagers there are left with a limited choice of hangout places. So the idea of hanging-out in coffee parlour is modern, yet ethnic," Malhotra said.
The management and staff have been hired locally, however, they have all visited India to obtain training from the coffee company.
The Bangalore-based coffee firm is also bullish on the Southeast Asian and eastern and western European markets.
"We are exploring every opportunity to invest in the eastern and western European market and we plan to open up outlets in Singapore and Malaysia," adds Malhotra.
Currently, Cafe Coffee Day has 364 cafes in India. In the overseas market, it has now two outlets - Vienna and now Karachi.