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Johnny Rockets is coming back in India

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American burger chain Johnny Rockets is re-entering India through a franchise agreement with FranGlobal, nearly a year after the retro-themed diner shuttered its stores due to inadequate support for its growth plan.

The California-based company had opened its first India outlet in Delhi in 2013 through franchisee firm Prime Gourmet. It expanded to six outlets but couldn’t take it further. Fred Joosten, senior vice-president for the company’s international business, told ET it was because Prime Gourmet did not have the infrastructure to support its growth plans.

Over the last five years, about half a dozen burger chains including Carl’s Jr, Fatburger, Burger King, Wendy’s and Barcelos have set up outlets, but McDonald’s remains the biggest chain and almost synonymous with burgers in the country.

Johnny Rockets has 332 franchise-owned restaurants in 32 countries.

“All restaurants face indirect competition from all other restaurants, as well as folks dining at home. Johnny Rockets does not face any more competition in this regard than anybody else, and one can argue they face less due to their positioning, flexibility and commitment to the burgeoning off-premise mark,” Joosten told ET. “Our unique positioning and emphasis on over-the-top Americana and fun truly separates Johnny Rockets from the rest.”

Johnny Rockets restaurants are known for their diner-style theme, old songs, and staff that entertains guests with song-and-dance routines. With an upscale pricing and ambience, the company said it will compete with chains such as Hard Rock Cafe and Chilis in the region.

Its new franchise partner FranGlobal said the first store will be opened by the end of the year. “In the next three to five years, we should be able to have a rollout of 15 stores in major metros. We can also look forward to collaborate with travel food operators to open stores at airports,” said Venus Barak, CEO of FranGlobal.

India’s eating-out market, which is dominated by unorganised players, is expected to reach $131 billion by 2022. Total sales of quick service restaurants are estimated to grow by 9.2% to $21.6 billion by then, according to data from Euromonitor. The western fastfood market, which is just 1.3% of the overall eating-out market, is expected to grow at the fastest clip of 13.4% to reach $1.8 billion in 2022.

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