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Born in India: Chicken Maharajah Mac!

Born in India: Chicken Maharajah Mac!

Adapting and making changes to suit a particular culture is one of the secrets to succeeding in new markets.

Amit Jatia is the man responsible for McDonald’s phenomenal growth in the Indian market since the company first contacted him in 1994. His business has 174 McDonald’s across 17 cities in India and is counting.

McDonald’s was willing to localize, and so, respecting the sentiments of Hindus and Muslims in the country they promised that there would be no beef or pork on the menu. The Big Mac beef burger, the company’s signature product, was replaced by the Chicken Maharajah Mac.

Perceptive of the fact that many Indians are vegetarians, and being a vegetarian himself, Amit has introduced a 20 rupees (35c) Aloo Tikki Burger, a burger with a cutlet made of mashed potatoes, peas and flavored with Indian spices. “It’s something you would find on Indian streets, it was essentially the McDonald’s version of street food. The price and the taste together, the value we introduced, was a hit. It revolutionized the industry in India,” he says.

McDonald’s doesn’t have the Indian fast-food market to itself:

  • Domino’s Pizza has more than 500 restaurants across India
  • KFC has more than 300 restaurants
  • Dunkin Donuts has more than 30 outlets in India
  • Burger King has just opened its first restaurant in Delhi and other outlets are reported to be opening shortly – it too has dropped pork and beef from its menu

Originally Amit was the local partner in the south and west of India, running the chain as a joint venture with the global McDonald’s company. Later he bought out the McDonald’s stake and now solely runs the chain in the south and west of the country. The journey hasn’t been an easy one since Amit has had to adapt the business and infrastructure to a uniquely Indian market. He has segregated kitchens for vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. “All the kitchen fabrication, the refrigeration, chillers and freezers and furniture are made locally,” he explains. In most cases McDonald’s global suppliers have worked with local businesses to make that happen. Amit wants to take it further. His current challenge is to make fryers locally. Overall he has managed to grow same-store sales by 200% and he says he’s not done yet. The plans are to open another 1,000 restaurants in the next decade.

McDonald’s in India has another partner in the north with whom they are entangled in ownership issues. On asking Amit Jatia how he managed to get around it, the MBA from the University of Southern California said, “There are a lot of regulatory approvals needed to get something done. But that is known. Once you know it, you factor it into your business plan.”

 

 

 

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