The fast food and catering market in Pakistan has reached a threshold where it can be recognized as a driving force for new investment. Pakistan’s billion dollar market is not only seeing growth in local food stores, but also attracting international food chains.
Fatburger – the fast food chain based in Santa Monica, Calif. – is the latest to announce plans to grab a bite from the local food market. One of the fastest growing food chains in the world, Fatburger will soon be introduced in Pakistan by BIL Foods Ltd, a Dubai-based subsidiary of BIL Investments that owns a restaurant chain and a chemical company.
Fatburger will join McDonalds, Pizza Hut, KFC, Hardee’s and OPTP which already operate in the country. Not to mention the hundreds of local restaurants and fast food outlets that open each year to meet growing demand.
According to industry sources, around 50 new grocery stores were expected to be operational in the past two months in the Defense and Clifton districts of Karachi alone. Of those 50 locations, many have already opened while more are in the works, sources said.
The list includes not only restaurants and fast food chains, but also cafes, bakeries and specialty food stores, the source added.
The growth of the food industry has even created a secondary market for young entrepreneurs, as many online food portals have opened up and are doing well financially.
Although there is no official data available on the size of this market, a conservative study of some 25,000 food centers by Food Connection Pakistan – an online food portal – found that Pakistanis spend at least 90 billion rupees ($ 1 billion) to dine out every year.
âI believe food is the only entertainment in Pakistan so far,â said BIL Foods CEO Samiullah Mohabbat, while sharing his take on the interest of international food chains in Pakistan – in a e-mail to L’Express Tribune.
There is still a huge gap for international food chains to enter the Pakistani market, Mohabbat said.
Referring to the advantages of doing business in Pakistan, the CEO said Pakistan has a strong human resource; English speaking workforce, profitable managers and technical workers. In addition, he added, it has a large and growing domestic market.
There are around 180 million consumers with rising incomes, he said, and a growing middle class adopting sophisticated spending habits, making it a strong emerging market.
Explaining what attracted BIL Investments to Pakistan, he said that good quality telecommunications and IT services, comprehensive road, rail and sea links, a long-standing corporate culture in Pakistan make the country an attractive market. for investments.
He added that Pakistan’s strategic location makes it a regional hub and a main gateway to the Central Asian republics. The country has a long-standing connection with the Middle East and Southeast Asia and provides full duty-free facilities for investors.
Excited by the launch of the first Fatburger franchise in the country, Mohabbat suggested investing more in the local food market.
âWe are passionate about international franchising and see that there are flourishing opportunities in the country,â Mohabbat said. âBIL Foods strives to bring the highest quality of international brands to Pakistan and you will witness more of our efforts in the near future,â he added.
BIL Foods will open five restaurants in three years, according to Mohabbat, and a new development agreement will be signed after this period. Fatburger will follow Hardee’s lead and open its first franchise on MM Alam Road, Lahore, then Dolmen City Mall, Karachi. Mohabbat did not mention any specific date.
Fatburger has more than 95 branches in the United States. In addition to its Californian roots, Fatburger has a strong presence across America. The fast food chain has franchises in Canada, Dubai, Hong Kong, Macau, Beijing, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Jakarta. Pakistan will be the latest addition to its portfolio.
Posted in The Express Tribune, June 20e, 2012.