A 20-Year Journey-Part I

Amit Jatia, Vice Chairman, Westlife Development Limited, is the man behind McDonald’s India (West & South). The 20-year journey has not been easy for a restaurant franchise which had to start from scratch to become a 1000-crore business, serving 300 million people a year today. So, how exactly did McDonald’s manage to enter the homes and hearts of the people of India? Amit Jatia shared his success story with Money Control recently.

Instead of jumping into the business, Jatia had the foresight to train himself and his 20 managers in every aspect of the McDonald’s business. For this purpose, the team travelled to Jakarta, Indonesia, where they spent nine months as the McDonalds’s crew, learning how to make French Fries, clean the restaurant, and cook all the products.

The experience culminated in a 10-day training at the Hamburger University at Oakbrook, USA, where, in Jatia’s words, “It had less to do with making burgers and more to do with how to work together.” Jatia considers it a vital experience, as he knows the McDonald’s business is all about customer service, about working together.

The Landscape 20 Years Ago

Recalling his journey, Jatia says there was no quick-service restaurant (QSR) at the time, nor any good burger shops. “It was we who started serving good quality burgers.”

However, even before Jatia, a vegetarian himself, launched the business, he was clear that no beef or pork would be served in India as respect for the religious sentiments of the people. The sauces too had to be made eggless and yet taste good. The kitchens, from the start, had separate vegetarian and non-vegetarians cooking areas.

Brilliant Menu At An Amazing Price

They started with McVeggies, and later, understanding the Indian palate, evolved to create McAloo Tikki, Pizza McPuff and Chicken McGrill at pocket friendly prices. As Jatia puts it, “Ninety per cent of our products today are relevant to the Indian consumer.”

Reinventing Through Coffee

McDonald’s India came up with the idea of launching its McCafé range of speciality coffee shops in 2013 and that has worked very well so far. In fact McCafé is one of the fastest growing brand extensions. Today, McCafé outlets number 93, and soon will cross the 100-store mark.

To be continued….

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