Now, Patanjali Ayurved to foray into fast-food chain

Patanjali Ayurved, which has taken on FMCG giants like Unilever with its range of ''natural'' and ''ayurveda'' nutrition and personal-care products, plans to enter the restaurant chain business in India.

The company, based in Uttarakhand, is working on ''an extensive plan'' to start a restaurant chain, Baba Ramdev – purported yoga guru and the face of Patanjali Ayurved - said at a press conference in New Delhi on Thursday.

While reports said Patanjali would be competing with McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Subway Restaurants – all of which serve non-vegetarian food – there was no mention anywhere of whether Patanjali would join them in this or stick to vegetarian fare.

Patanjali will increase competition in an already crowded food retailing space in India, Santosh Kanekar, a Mumbai-based adviser at BeLive Corp, which consults with hedge funds, told Bloomberg. Food accounts for about 57 per cent of India's total retail business and the market is expected to more than triple to Rs71 trillion ($1.1 trillion) by 2025, says Bloomberg citing India Food Forum, a retail-exhibition platform.

''There are already so many players and even a strong player like Dominos is struggling for growth,'' Kanekar said, referring to the Indian unit of Domino's Pizza Inc. Patanjali Ayurved has the ability to generate buzz initially, he said, though it probably doesn't have a sustainable competitive advantage in the quick service restaurants space, which requires high capital expenditure.

The aim, according to Ramdev, is to wean Indians off what he considers unhealthy food.

He is hoping Patanjali Ayurved can replicate the success it has had in the consumer products space, where it has some 500 offerings spanning food, nutrition, and beauty and personal care.

Formed about a decade ago, it had a 1.2 per cent share of India's beauty and personal care market in 2015 from 0.2 per cent in 2011, according to Euromonitor.

The company's turnover was Rs10,500 crore in 2016-17, Baba Ramdev said on Thursday. It has the capacity to make products worth Rs30,000 crore and plans to double that next year, he said.

Patanjali Ayurved also intends to launch an apparel business and a school for the children of slain Indian soldiers, he said.

Ramdev has said he's an ''unpaid ambassador'' at Patanjali. His ''childhood friend'' Acharya Balkrishna holds 97 per cent of the company's shares.

''Patanjali has broken the stranglehold of multinational companies,'' Ramdev said. ''I want India to be free of the hold of foreign companies.''