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Papa John's sees India as a growth market

Rising salaries and a growing culture of eating out is helping India's $65 mn a year pizza sector grow by 20% a year.

india Updated: Jun 14, 2006 11:37 IST

Papa John's International, Inc, a US-based pizza delivery chain, sees India as one of six priority markets from where most of its growth will come as new markets discover the delights of deep pan dinners.

Rising salaries and a growing culture of eating out is helping India's Rs 3 billion ($65 million) a year pizza sector grow by up to 20 per cent a year.

"Our goal in the next 10 years would be to get to 500 stores in India," Chief Executive Nigel Travis told Reuters in an interview, up from only two at present.

"Dining out here is growing and clearly the affluent categories are growing very quickly and most of the (disposable) money is spent on buying technological products, mobiles and on restaurants -- and this is where we fit in."

"Indians like a lot of variety and as a food, pizza is very flexible."

Chain restaurants have less than 300 pizza outlets across the country, with the market led by Domino's and Pizza Hut, which is owned by Yum Brands Inc. Pizza Corner and local brand Nirulas' are the other players in the sector.

The Louisville, Kentucky-based firm has tailored its menu to local tastes and fixed its prices at a par with or slightly higher than the competition, Travis said.

The firm has already appointed a franchisee for India's northern states, who will set up 100 stores in 11 years, and it is in talks to sign deals for the southern and western regions.

"India is one of our six priority markets and most of our international growth will come from these markets," he said.

The other five are China, Russia, South Korea, Mexico and the UK. At the moment nearly 5 per cent of the company's revenue comes from international operations.

"Our vision in 10 years is that international operations will be much bigger than the United States business," he said.

The 22-year-old firm has nearly 2,650 outlets in the United States, and 2,924 across 22 countries. Travis said at least 900 restaurants would be opened overseas in the next decade.

"India fits very strongly in our growth plans -- the delivery to sales ratio here is already bigger than China."

First Published: Jun 14, 2006 11:37 IST