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Lite Bite Foods may take IPO route for funds

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NEW DELHI: Lite Bite Foods, which runs over 180 restaurant stores including Punjab Grill and Street Foods, is looking to list on the stock market over the next 12 months, joining the select few listed restaurant firms such as Domino’s operator Jubilant FoodWorksBSE 1.25 %, Speciality Restaurants and Westlife Development which runs McDonald’s in the West and South. “We can probably go public in the next year. We’ve reached those numbers. There are two ways to fund the business – private equity or a public listing. I’m more interested in going public,” Lite Bite Foods chairman Amit Burman told ET.

“The eating out sentiment is coming back. Impact of demonetisation, Goods & Services Tax (GST) and the highway ban have settled down. There are only so many ways of entertainment. People will not stop eating out for a 5% increase in menu prices,” Burman, who is also DaburBSE -0.24 % group vice chairman said. He added that in markets like Singapore or Hong Kong, people go out to eat about 28 times in a month. “In India, the number is 3 or 4. So if you look at what we can do to make that 3 or 4 to 10, it’s a big jump,” he said.

Lite Bite’s revenues grew 30-32% over last year, and Burman said the near Rs 300-crore business has identified Punjab Grill, Street Foods and Artful Baker, a recently set up vertical for institutions under which it runs cafeterias at office complexes and schools, and food courts at airports as growth engines. Travel and the conventional store model are contributing equally to company revenues.

He said the company would maintain its array of brands mainly for its airports business, including Asia Seven and Zambar.

“For institutions, we sweat our commissaries. We’re doing close to 9,000 meals a day and expanding the model. The number of customers is guaranteed. It’s like the airport business where sales could fluctuate at most a daily 5% higher or lower,” Burman said.

For airports, Lite Bite operates on the franchise model, and has set up stores for KFC and Burger King, among others.

He said in contrast, in a mall location, sales are dependent on footfalls – based on the movie or entertainment. “On Monday to Friday, sometimes the entertainment isn’t there in the mall but you’re running your restaurant. What you make up is in the weekend. In a mall, the difference in revenues between a Sunday and Monday can be drastic.”

Besides Burman, the other promoter is Rohit Aggarwal.

An Indian Food Services Report prepared by National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) last year forecasted the country’s food services market to touch close to Rs 5 lakh crore by 2021. But the organised sector accounts for just 33% of this market, which the report attributed to over regulation, steep real estate costs and inadequate infrastructure and supply chai eom

Analysts said with double digit growth over the past few quarters, listed restaurant firms are picking up trends in consumption revival. “We are positive of the sector. Everyday value pricing, improved frequency of existing customers, higher efficiencies in cost management are contributing. Besides, the threat from online players like Zomato and Swiggy has diminished because the restaurant firms are alining with these providers,” Edelweiss Securities senior VP Abneesh Roy said.

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