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FINANCIAL CHRONICLE™ » DAILY CHRONICLE™ » Sri Lanka fast food franchise sets eyes on the Maldives

Sri Lanka fast food franchise sets eyes on the Maldives

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Redbulls

Redbulls
Director - Equity Analytics
Director - Equity Analytics
July 12, 2012 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s Perera& Sons, a 110 year old fast food chain has set sights on neighbouring Maldives for it maiden overseas foray, as it also scouts new locations to expand its footprint locally, a senior official said.

The Indian archipelago of 1,192 islands, is home to tens of thousands of foreign workers and some330,000 Sunni Muslims.

Perera& Sons, which also offers traditional Sri Lankan cuisines and upmarket patisseries and deserts, is familiar to Maldivians visiting Sri Lanka.

"Maldives is on the radar. We are talking to a few parties there (in Male), but things have not been finalised yet," said GihanPerera, Managing DirectorPerera& Sons.

Perera said the proposed outlet will have a mix of bakery, Sri Lankan food and some Maldivian dishes on its menus.

"Maldives will be our first outlet outside Sri Lanka, because the market there is familiar with our products, our brand. Perhaps on a later date, we might look at India, which is also a very promising market," said Perera.

He has been with the tightly family controlled business for some 25-years, which was built by his great-grandfather Charles Perera in 1902.

Charles Perera, who picked up culinary skills at Colombo’s British-era Grand Orient Hotel, began the bakery in the capital's upmarket Colpetty area selling bread.

From the official food supplier to the British Raj during their occupation in Ceylon, Perera& Sons have fed millions during its 110-years of existence.

"Selling quality food mass scale at affordable prices, has been one of the main drivers that has helped our business survive for 110-years," he said.

Some two-decades ago, a need for radical change saw the family step-aside from operations and hired professionals to steer the chain. The fairly quiet family business also prefers their products to do the talking and had their first ever news conference on Wednesday.

With an annual turnover in excess of 1.5 billion rupees, the company reports a modest 10-15 percent growth. Officials put profitability "at just under 100 million rupees" a year, with most monies coming from the bakery products.

"Fish buns, remains the most selling item and we make about 5,000 buns a day. Next best seller is fish patties, where we make around 3,000 a day," said Perera adding that they make over 2,000 food items a day.

To celebrate its 110th year, the bakery plans to revive some old discontinued patisseries like jam tarts and fish marie (a tuna filled bun), but will not include its signature homemade mint ice cream with chocolate chips, which was once a popular household desert.

With 109 outlets in operation across main cities and towns, the company will open their 110th outlet next Tuesday just outside Colombo. Most of the stores are built on a franchise model, which saves the company from buying locations.

Getting the right location, is always a challenge in their expansion drive, given the stiff competition with scores of other bakeries and food outlets.

The capital of Colombo alone, is dotted with upmarket coffee shops and bakeries selling to scores of young people with deep pockets.

"Competition remains very tight, everywhere we open another 10-15 competitors open close by. But we are in the food business, and that remains a growing market despite high prices of electricity, raw materials, packaging and so forth,"Perera said.

The group got active on social media last year, updating their conversations many times a day, to engage with younger customers.

"Social media, we figured out, would be one of the most efficient and affordable ways to reach out to youngsters. We want to ensure these young people remains with our brand throughout their lifetime," he added.

Charles Perera’s own recipes may not have survived intact over the years, but the younger Perera said his great-grandfather would not have dreamt of founding a business that now spans five-generations.

“It’s something we can be proud of. I don’t know many businesses that have been around for 110 years here (in Sri Lanka) and we hope to be around for quite a bit longer,” he added.
http://lbo.lk/fullstory.php?nid=193688329

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