PRAN now will sell fried chicken
Top food processor Pran is planning to grab a big share of the country's fast food market with a retail chain focusing on selling fried chicken defying the gloom of the pandemic. With Fry Bucket, it wants to expand its footprint through outlets all over Bangladesh as fast food consumption has been increasing rapidly.
The company is opening its first outlet in Dhanmondi today at a time when fast food sales dropped over 40 per cent due to lockdowns and peoples' reluctance to avail dine-in services. It will also face severe competition from other fast food retail chains who are now reeling from pandemic curbs. "Despite the pandemic, people's appetite for fast food, especially fried chicken, has been growing," Kamruzzaman Kamal, director for marketing at Pran-RFL Group, told The Daily Star.
"So we want to cater to these customers and gradually expand our operation to all the major cities in the country," he said. Initially, it plans to establish 10 outlets in all the major locations in Dhaka by this year. Asked how Pran will overcome challenges brought on by the pandemic, he said there would be facilities for online orders and home deliveries.
"We had plans to launch it in 2020, but it was delayed for the pandemic," he added. "We already have the logistics and infrastructure in place and customers also can order from food delivery platforms," he said.
According to industry insiders, annual fast food sales amount to over 1,000 crore, with fried chicken's market share being 30 per cent. There are a number of top restaurants with fried chicken in focus such as Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), Best Fried Chicken (BFC), Charoen Pokphand (CP) and HERFY. Transcom Foods signed a contract to become the franchisee of KFC in 2006. It has 23 outlets across five major cities in the country.
According to an official of Charoen Pokphand, a Thai brand which sells fried chicken under the CP Five Star brand, it has over 200 outlets across the country. The homegrown BFC has 19 outlets, all located in Dhaka, according to an official of the brand. "Chain restaurant sector has been facing a tough time due to Covid. Now, we have to rely largely on food delivery platforms," said an official of the brand wishing anonymity
"For this reliance, some food delivery platforms charge us a hefty commission and this is a big problem for us," he said. An official of another chain restaurant said an existing 10 per cent supplementary duty on the top of a 15 per cent VAT was also a challenge. Fast food sales and the establishment of chain restaurants has been growing in Bangladesh through the booming of the economy and increasing incomes. Pran ventured into retail food chains in 2014 with Tasty Treat, a cake and pastry brand. It now has over 200 outlets. Later in 2015, it launched sweets brand Mithai. It now has over 130 outlets.
"Fast food consumption has become a part of entertainment. So, such food retail chains will grow further," added Kamal.