Chinese food, once considered to be the USP of street food market in India has witnessed a revolution of sorts with the popularity of authentic Chinese restaurant chain Yo! China. Brainchild of Ashish Kapur who is the co founder and Managing Director, Yo! China aims to deliver high quality Chinese food at value prices served in an international and trendy ambience. Presently, Yo! China operates in 51 outlets across 14 cities and aims to open over 200 outlets by 2015.
Ashish with his graduate degree in electronics and telecom engineering from the prestigious McGill University in Canada, has transformed the Indian hospitality sector by empowering the brand of Yo! China. So much so that for his achievement in creating a national brand which offers an international experience, Ashish has been awarded various accolades like: Business Week – “Asia’s Best Young Entrepreneurs 2008”, ‘Best F&B Retailer-2008- Images Golden Spoon Award’; ‘Federation of Hotels & Restaurant Association of India - Young Restaurant Entrepreneur of the Year-2006’ ‘India Today – Young Achiever of 2006’, ‘CNBC – Young Turks’.
Blossoming of Yo! China:
Yo! China has had an eventful journey from its humble beginnings in the year 2003 by Moods Hospitality Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi with two locations in Delhi. Today Yo! China is the largest chain of Chinese restaurants in India with 60 outlets across 22 cities. In the words of Ashish Kapur, "behind the experience is an eclectic melting pot of ideas and expertise, of impassioned entrepreneurs. The brainchild of 6 innovative individuals, Yo! China brings together a charming culinary experience with fast service and child friendly atmosphere". The company has developed its unique product line catering to the needs of youngsters and fine dining enthusiasts. From fast food for the young people to a casual and fine dining experience for families, Yo! China is known for chilled out Chinese food at affordable prices, combo meals and a vibrant ambience as its USP.
An overview of entrepreneurial journey:
Yo! China started in 2003 as a QSR brand with 2 locations in Delhi with an objective of making it the largest Chinese restaurant chain in India. Some of the challenges faced by the brand in the words of Ashish include putting new and new dishes in the menu to delight the guests, trained manpower requirement and keeping the prices under control. With the help of well conceived business policies including sound supply chain management, continuous staff training programs etc, Yo! China has been able to overcome these challenges and acquired the status of market leader in its segment.
Challenges and roadblocks:
“The future looks promising for an organized restaurant chain like ours” says Ashish but the journey has had its share of challenges and roadblocks. Some of the major challenges are- ever-increasing real estate prices, manpower retention etc. Yo! China does negotiate well with the landlords for reasonable rent/lease deals to be cracked. Well planned recruitment policies help Yo! China recruit the best manpower with regular training programs for the employees particularly for kitchen staff help them getting updated on new skills, knowledge and trends. Competitive compensation packages including performance linked incentives motivate them to work for the brand for a longer time.
To add to the woe, the Indian hospitality industry has been gripped by several harsh financial burdens with a host of taxations like Value Added Tax (VAT), Service Tax, Luxury Tax, Excise Duty and Octroi Duty.
Business growth potential:
In the words of co founder Ashish Kapur, “apart from the families, we have young people as our customers who are passionate about Yo China food because of the mouth watering dishes from our large menu, trendy locations, great ambience and reasonable prices. Because of the rapid urbanization of small towns in India, we foresee a rapid growth for our brand in Tier 3 cities as well. Currently we have presence at 62 locations in 22 cities”.
Yo! China has a dedicated and well oriented marketing channel focusing on all aspects of marketing and brand promotion in complete detail. The company has a well defined marketing strategy including regular promotion through advertisements on Radio to continuous innovation in the product line to delight the guests and from promotion through rebate/discount/gift schemes at the outlets, leaflet distribution in the catchment area to online promotion, this includes floating various discount schemes through online food websites viz Zomato, Food panda etc.
An example of Yo! China's brilliant marketing strategy can be gauged from the association of the brand with the blockbuster Spiderman 2 co-Branding. All the outlets in Delhi & NCR were well decorated on the theme of the amazing Spiderman movie 2. Outlet staff was wearing Spiderman t-shirts and back mask. Schemes included, free meals for two, spin the wheel of fortune, free meal for a month etc. It received an overwhelming response across all the outlets.
Yo! China has 15 restaurants in and around Delhi which are company operated and rest of the restaurants across the country is being operated through a network of franchisees under the robust franchise system created by Yo! China.
Thay had major expansion plans on cards whereby twenty outlets would be opened in current fiscal in tier I II III cities through franchise route. “We have seen an increased customer trend towards Indian Chinese restaurants in India. More and more people, particularly young people are seen visiting restaurants offering fresh, trendy high standard Chinese food in an international ambience. We foresee a huge business potential for the brand in the entire country including tier II and tier III towns" says Asish.