Indians are famous for their love of sugary, milk-based sweets – treats like gulab jamuns, roshgollai, and barfi – which are passed out on any auspicious occasion – a birth, an engagement, a job promotion, and of course, a wedding.
But many global companies are hoping Indians’ taste for sweets will carry over to non-traditional products, including that old American deep-fried, sugary, quick breakfast stand-by, the doughnut.
Krispy Kreme, the US-based donut maker, is the latest player setting up shop in India, announcing plans this week to set up 80 doughnut stores over the next five years, with an initial focus mostly on the more affluent southern and western parts of the country.
The group has tied up with Citymax India, which operates food courts in Indian shopping malls and runs Gloria Jean’s Coffees in India, and will hunt for suitable retail spaces for the chain, one of the toughest challenges for any retailer.
Krispy Kreme’s decision to plunge into India follows the entry into the market of its bitter rival, Dunkin’ Donuts in partnership with New Delhi’s Jubilant Foodworks, a Bombay Stock Exchange-listed company, which also operates the phenomenally successful Domino’s Pizza chain in India.
Since announcing its plans to enter India in February last year, Dunkin’ Donuts has opened three stores, under the brand “Dunkin’ Donuts & More,’ offering not just doughnuts and coffees but also sandwiches, fruit milkshakes and smoothies to appeal to the Indian palette.
Like Krispy Kreme, Dunkin’ Donuts aims to open 80 to 100 outlets in the next five years, first opening stores in New Delhi before expanding nationally.
The prospect of foreign companies opening supermarkets in India has produced howls of protests from those who fear mom and pop shops will be decimated by competition from the global giants.
India’s busy sweet-makers, however, seem unperturbed about the arrival of America’s donut wars on India’s shores. When it comes to favourite treats in India, doughnuts are unlikely to replace gulab jamuns any time soon.
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