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Mukesh Ambani forays into chicken business, to take on KFC

MUMBAI: Mukesh Ambani-controlledReliance IndustriesBSE -0.03 % plans to run an exclusive chicken restaurant chain in India in partnership with a UK-based company as he seeks a bite of the quick service restaurant (QSR) pie, which is pegged to grow at 30% per annum. Given that Ambani is a strict vegetarian, it is a clear sign that businessdecisions can be separated from an individual's dietary and lifestyle choices. 

The chain, to be called 'Chicken came First' will directly compete with 
KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken), the world's most popular chicken restaurant chain. 

RIL has picked up a 45% equity stake in Two Sisters Foods India (TSFI), which belongs to 2 Sisters Food Group (2SFG). 2SFG, the third largest food company in UK, supplies poultry, red meat, fish, and bakery and chilled/frozen products to the retail, food service and food manufacturing sectors. 

RIL has picked up the stake through Reliance Retail for an undisclosed sum. The balance 55% is held by 2SFG, founded by British businessman Ranjit Singh Boparan. 

Two Sisters Foods India (TSFI), in which RIL has taken a 45% stake, will supply chilled and frozen foods at its food & grocery outlets to begin with. It will later tap the Rs 7,000 crore food services market by setting up its 'Chicken came First' (CCF) chain of restaurants, which plans to differentiate itself by specifically customising its menu to cater to Indian tastebuds. An e-mail to RIL and 2SFG failed to elicit any response. 

Confirming the move, a source close to the development told TOI that the JV is setting up a plant to process chicken, fish and meat products. "Reliance Retail has already invested in a state-of-the-art food innovation lab to support new products," he said. 

Birmingham-based 2SFG was established by Boparan in 1993 and has grown through acquisition and expanded to 36 manufacturing sites in the UK, eight in the Netherlands, five in Ireland and one in Poland. The group, which clocked annual sales of three billion pounds last year, employs over 24,000 people; it ranks 19th on the 2013 Sunday Times Top Track 100. 

Global brands currently have an aggregate market share of 63% of the domestic 
QSR – or fast food -- market, estimated at Rs 3,400 crore and expected to grow by 30% on the back of expansion into smaller cities. Annual spends on eating out at QSR chains in non-metros are expected to surge 150% to Rs 3,750 per household over the next three years, according to estimates by CRISIL.