Lord of the Fries in India: why it will work this time

Calling off planned Indian expansion was a blessing in disguise for Lord of the Fries, co-founder Sam Koronczyk tells Inside Franchise Business.

The vegan and vegetarian fast food chain has announced it has signed a master franchise for a 2019 launch in India. But this is not the first time the business has looked to the Indian market; four years ago it was negotiating a master franchise arrangement that didn’t get off the ground.

Managing director Koronczyk says “We got very close on a number of occasions but right at the end there were mounting numbers of changes to what we had agreed to. We decided it was time to move on from that. If it was happening at the beginning it would have been very problematic as we progressed,” he says.

Today he rates the experience as beneficial because the company is now far more prepared to develop a market in India.

“We’d laid the groundwork, in understanding the processes in negotiating a master franchise agreement, what to consider putting on the table at the beginning, as well as the set up of the brand in India,” Koronczyk says.

Lord of the Fries had spent at least six months on the project and had supply chains already lined up. “A lot of time and money was spent, but it was quite beneficial.”

The new franchise agreement in India was “really unexpected” he says. It came about thanks to a former employee who on his return to India connected the brand he loved with a company seeking new concepts.

The master franchisee, Zesty Bites, is part of a large property group Sakariya which brings two specific advantages to the agreement, Koronczyk says.

“It can more easily move to secure locations, which is quite a challenge. Secondly being part of a big group they’re quite systematic in the way they work. They will apply some operational procedures to Lord of the Fries.”

Zesty Bites has brought on experienced food operators who have been training for six weeks at the Melbourne head office.

“They’ve been really impressive, nothing is too big a challenge,” he reveals.”When you go into any relationship with people you don’t know, there’s always a fear of how it will be when you are working together. They’ve given me a lot of confidence.”

Koronczyk is anticipating the new market will seed further expansion across the region.

“We’re certainly hopeful that with this foothold in South East Asia it will open up to other places.”

He describes the focus on growth as “very organic, we’re not in any rush”.

That applies equally to the domestic market as overseas growth, with another seven in the pipeline for this year across Australia and New Zealand, to bring the total store network to 25.

In 2019 a further five are planned, excluding the Indian development.

And Koronczyk is looking further afield too with the US, UK and Canada in his sights. “We’re talking to overseas companies and there’s some serious interest,” he admits, but won’t specify which countries are advanced in talks.