The company is looking to bring halving imports, which are currently around 30-40% of its ingredients used, to reduce raw material costs and manage currency fluctuations.
Anjan Chatterjee, founder and managing director, Speciality Restaurants, said there is a significant import component in all the Chinese cuisine raw material for the flagship brand (Mainland China). "While we were importing a lot of food ingredients earlier, serious efforts are being made to reduce dependence on these ingredients going forward," he said in an earnings call.
Indraneil Palit, executive director – projects, business development and strategic planning, said that company was looking at replacement of some of the ingredients being imported in bulk so far.
"These (ingredients) will be replaced with something that is grown domestically without compromising on the quality of the food. We have had initial success with this approach and there are plans to spread this out to all our outlets," said Palit.
For instance, noodles used for various menu items in Mainland China were being imported earlier, but now the company began working with local noodle manufacturers in India.
"We are currently working very closely with 5-6 different manufacturers to ensure same quality ingredients / raw materials are made available in the country in the long run," said Chatterjee. The company imports include oyster sauces and Sichuan peppers, dried mushrooms and pickled gherkins.
Test runs were currently on with over a couple of Mainland China outlets in Mumbai, and the company said customer feedback on the quality and taste was encouraging.
Once the strategy is implemented across its 52 Mainland China outlets in the country, the company expects its imports to come down to 15-20% within the next six months from the current 30-40%.
Analysts said if the rupee stays stable, the raw material costs could down by 2% at least.
Also, the company has added a host of Pan-Asian (Thai, Malaysian, Burmese, etc) cuisine to Mainland China menu.
"Within Chinese cuisine, obviously there are challenges that you can only do so much and not beyond that. Everybody wants innovation coming in as a result a brand has to be refreshed. We saw an opportunity and Mainland China being the key draw to our restaurants, we decided to add Asian cuisine to the offerings under the new brand," said Chatterjee.
Targeting the younger customer base in the 18-24 year age bracket, the restaurant company had earlier introduced Cafe Mezzuna (all-day casual dining) and has now added another brand Hoppipola (all-day bar). Another six Hoppipola and Cafe Mezzuna outlets will be added in this fiscal.
Among its other brands, Machaan will be gradually phased out while Sigree will give way to Sigree Global Grill. And Oh! Calcutta will see some consolidation with the company shutting down a few outlets.