Your humble railway platform may soon get KFC, Pizza Hut, Costa Coffee 

Devyani International, the franchisee that runs KFC, Pizza Hut and Costa Coffee, ties up with IRCTC to bid for food court contracts at railway stations.
IRCTC is the largest operator of railway catering stalls.
IRCTC is the largest operator of railway catering stalls.

Fancy munching on some hot and fresh fried chicken with crispy french fries while you wait for your train? Or perhaps, some Pizza and coffee after a tiring train journey is your thing. Either way, you may be in luck, as Devyani International – which operates brands like KFC, Pizza Hut and Costa Coffee in India – has joined hands with IRCTC to bid for railway food court contracts. 

The move, which will take the form of a joint venture between the two companies, comes as a part of the government's plan to modernize railway stations. 

“ If you look at the intent of the government, they want to modernize the railway stations to match with how the look and feel of airports is.. we see this joint venture to be giving higher opportunity...” said Manish Dawar, Executive Director & CFO at Devyani International. 

He also added that the company looks at the collaboration with IRCTC as a “win-win situation”. 

“We’ve formed the joint venture with someone who has great experience as far as working with the railways is concerned..and then we bring in our established brands, and we bring in our expertise of running operations at the food court.. it is going to be a big asset, a big plus for us…” he said. 

IRCTC is the largest provider of catering services to the Indian Railways. A few years ago, IRCTC also launched its e-catering services, where the passengers can order food through its website or through the app called ‘Food on Track’. 

For this, IRCTC had partnered with several brands such as Domino’s, Subway, Haldiram etc..and enabled restaurant-style fast food to reach the passenger’s seat while on the train. 

The introduction of food courts to railway stations will be another benchmark on this journey. The move could also benefit the fast food chain as the railway station is a place that is never empty. It could also help familiarise brands such as KFC, Pizza Hut and Costa Coffee among the rural public. 

“We think it could be in line with the rest of our food court portfolio or even slightly better, because of the very high traffic,” noted Dhawan speaking on an earnings call with investors on Tuesday. 

Currently, most railway stations in India do not have a specific area designated as a food court but are home to several stalls from which commuters can buy everything from tea to biriyanis.

Besides stalls operated by IRCTC, many local players – particularly restaurants and restaurant chains – also bid for and operate such stalls in their nearby railway stations.

However, given that many of the customers are likely to be people who come from other cities, pan-India and global brands such as KFC are likely to have an edge in attracting many of these customers.

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The New Indian Express