Burger King's Big Bite
Fortune India|March 2021
India has a taste for burgers, and Burger King is getting ready to deliver what the customers want with a menu tailored for local taste buds and an efficiency-led expansion plan.
Prerna Lidhoo

NOT TOO MANY MEALS represent quintessential American ‘fast food’ better than a burger. And it seems Indians, too, can’t get enough of it. Food delivery platform Zomato recently revealed that the burger was among the most searched foods on its app last year. And this can only be good news for players like Burger King, as it is for the ₹4.2 lakh crore Indian food industry with a predicted 9% CAGR growth.

Also known as the home of the Whopper, Burger King is the world’s second-largest fast-food burger brand with a network of 17,800 restaurants globally. Burger King India, which made its debut on the Fortune India Next 500 list at No.319 this year, is a joint venture between the U.S. burger giant and private equity firm Everstone Capital. The company plans to invest $200 million in the next six-seven years in India.

In November 2014, India became the 100th country in which Burger King set up shop, and at the helm is Rajeev Varman, its CEO here. With close to two decades at the company, Varman has helped expand the restaurant’s global footprint to markets like Canada and the U.K. Now, he is back in India to grow the brand. And there’s no better way to do it, he feels, than by giving the customer real value.

A DELICIOUS JOURNEY

In its first five years of operations in India, Burger King reached 200 outlets, making it one of the fastest-growing quick-service restaurants among international brands. A look at its key milestones:

2013

The U.S burger chain is incorporated as Burger King India Pvt. Ltd in Mumbai on November 11. Burger King Worldwide and Everstone Group, a private equity and real estate firm, establish a joint venture to develop the brand.

2014

Commences operations at its first store at Select Citywalk Mall in Saket, New Delhi. India is the 100th country in which the Miami-based company set up shop.

2015

Gives the local master franchise in India full control over the menu. The chain, known for its non-vegetarian Whoppers, creates six varieties of vegetarian sandwiches and snackers to cater to the large number of vegetarians.

2019

The firm is converted into a public limited company on September 25. It crosses revenue of ₹600 crores and becomes Ebitda positive. It posts sales of ₹644 crore in FY19 while its losses are reduced to ₹16 crore.

2020

Burger King India makes its debut on the bourses on December 2. The public offer sees shares priced in the band of ₹59-₹60. The IPO sees the Indian subsidiary raise ₹810 crore.

UNDER VARMAN, the company has tailored its menu and messaging to suit Indian tastes. For instance, it is building a wider vegetarian offering, enhancing its flame-grilling expertise, and focus on value leadership rather than price as a differentiator. “Value does not necessarily mean buying cheap products. We need to be value [oriented] in pricing and premium in quality,” says Varman.

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