Visiting Business People 2012
‘We want to do a Long Term Business in Nepal’
Raj Mehta is the CMD of Little Italy Restaurant and Bar, an Indian restaurant chain well known for authentic Italian cuisine.
Little Italy has recently opened its second international outlet in Kathmandu after its first one in Dubai. The restaurant has more than two dozen outlets within India. Mehta was recently in Nepal for the opening of the restaurant. In an interview with New Business Age, he shared his ideas on marketing and food business in Nepal. Excerpts:
What are the prospects that Little Italy sees in Nepal?
Nepal is a growing economy and a lot of tourists visit Nepal. Besides, Nepalis travel to a lot of places and so, people do know about different kind of food. The culture for eating out is also very good. There is a lot of potential for food as it is a never-dying business. Globally, food can be categorised into four major categories – Indian, Chinese, Italian and French. Indian as well as Chinese foods have good presence in Nepal while Italian food too is there but not as a proper fine dining option. That is the reason we chose Nepal and are very happy to be here. Kathmandu can sustain two more Italian dining outlets. Pokhara, being a major tourist destination, can also sustain an outlet. It is just a matter of time.
Little Italy is a new brand name for Nepal. How do you plan to market your brand along with Italian food?
First, launching the brand will increase the visibility of a particular brand in the market. We are covering the brand name through newspapers and e-marketing is being taken care of by our marketing team. The food business has a lot to do with word-of-mouth. We are certain on it because we are confident about the food. Once the food is tried and tasted, the word-of-mouth spreads like fire. There are marketing strategies in place but we believe most in the word-of-mouth publicity.
What is the brand value of Little Italy at present?
The brand was started in 1989 from Pune as a family run business. When an outlet was established in Mumbai in 1995, we got a big exposure. After that, we understood that there are a lot of prospects throughout India. As the world was getting narrower because of globalisation, we started franchising. That was one of the best ways to grow. This is a fine dining restaurant, so, we need a local partner to look after its day-to-day affairs. We have presence in most of the two-tier and three-tier cities in India. We started our first international outlet last year in Dubai which is doing very well.
What are the specialities of your restaurant?
We always wanted to be a fine dine restaurant for unique experience. We prepare food in an authentic Italian way - as the Italians prepare it. We like to keep the menu authentic as we don’t believe in getting things tailored. Everything is fresh here and we never compromise on quality.
Usually, the branded and chain restaurants in Nepal are priced comparatively high. How have you priced your menu?
Our target customers are local people, Indians residing in Nepal who know about us during their travels to India and other tourists. For tourists, Italian food is a kind of staple food. Relatively, this brand is a value for money. We maintain our standards that can be compared to a five-star restaurant but we believe that the price has to be value for money. We want to do a long term business rather than a short term business in Nepal. This will be a destination for good food and value for money.
What is the level of competition you feel here?
Fortunately, there is no competition. The market is a virgin territory for us. There are hardly any players in this particular Italian fine dining segment. There are few places for continental and multi-cuisine delicacies but something like fine dining is missing. There are a few players in Kathmandu market who are scattered here and there but those having a full-fledged setup are unfortunately missing. So, we don’t see any competition at all.
KFC and Pizza Hut recently faced a serious labour problem. How would you tackle the situation if similar situation arise in this restaurant too?
I would say things have to be seen positively. We should be able to take care of all the scenarios which are unfortunately common here in Nepal. It was kind of similar throughout the world years before. We must try to understand the situation. If both management and staff are well taken care of, such kind of scenario will not come up.
Visiting Business People
‘Consumers are Shifting Towards High Quality Products’
Rajendra Desai is the General Manager for Business Development at Kansai Nerolac Paints Limited (KNPL).
He has recently been appointed to the post of Country Head for Nepal and will be looking after the operations here. Having a work experience of three-and-a-half decades, Desai has worked at Asian Paints for 26 years in various capacities. He has been associated with Nerolac for the last seven years. Kansai Nerolac is a Japan-India Joint venture company. After the acquisition of Nepal Shalimar Pvt Ltd, the company has transformed into Japan-India-Nepal tripartite joint venture. In an interview with New Business Age, Desai shared details about the acquisition and the moves ahead. Excerpts:
Kansai Nerolac Paints has acquired 68 per cent stakes in Nepal Shalimar Paints. What are the reasons behind this move?
Kansai Nerolac Paints Ltd, India entered the joint venture with Nepal Shalimar Pvt Ltd (NSPL), one of the leading paints manufacturers in Nepal and acquired 68 per cent stake in the Nepali paints manufacturer. The investment made by Kansai Nerolac towards this acquisition is about Rs 125.8 million. With this acquisition, Nerolac expects to consolidate 10 per cent market share for Kansai Nerolac in Nepal. Owing to Nepal’s progressive economy, Kansai Nerolac Paints Ltd has shown significant business interest in the country. Further, the company would be giving a loan of Rs 120 million to fund the working capital requirement of NSPL. Considered in the top five bracket of Nepal, Nepal Shalimar commands a market share of 8 per cent in Nepal. It had a turnover of Rs 205.7 million in 2010/11 and approximately Rs 250 million in 2011/12. The company’s consolidated profit would improve and in turn increase EPS which will also benefit KNPL shareholders. KNPL is utilising the manufacturing set up of Nepal Shalimar and manufacturing the entire Nerolac range of products that are currently exported to Nepal.
After the acquisition, Nerolac envisages to capture more than 15 per cent market share. How do you plan to achieve that?
We are here to make Nepal almost self-reliant with the production of paints that match international standards in quality. Rapid urbanisation, construction boom in the past and growing awareness among customers has triggered the demand of paints, giving a leg up to the mostly joint ventures and subsidiary of Indian multinational companies. We believe that urbanisation not only in Kathmandu but also creation of new urban centres across the country with the flow of remittance in rural and semi-urban areas has been an encouraging factor to expand the paints market. We will be focusing to cash in on the emerging market. We have observed in recent times that the market is growing for paints despite slowed demand in the construction sector as consumers have become more aware and are shifting towards high quality products. Population growth and infrastructure development will have advantage to increase in demand of the paints. Due to growing demand, we aim to deliver international quality and healthy home paints at the right price which will be the unique selling point of our brand to achieve higher market share.
What are the specialities of Nerolac products?
What are the market prospects you see in Nepal?
We are proud to say that our water-based products are heavy metal free such as lead, mercury, chrome etc and all the products are almost zero VOC-(Volatile Organic Compound). We offer a wide range of decorative paints for exterior and interior walls as well as for wooden and metal products. Some of our products for exterior walls are Nerolac Excel Total, Excel Antipeel and Suraksha Advance in premium, middle and economy range respectively. Likewise, our products for interior walls are Nerolac Ecoclean, Impression 24 Carat Luxury of premium class, Lotus Touch Premium Emulsion for mid-range, Beauty Emulsion and Little Master for economy range. We have also offered Beauty Acrylic Distemper for our customers.
Our end consumers, paints dealers and painting contractors are loyal to Nerolac brand and have huge confidence in it. We have always served our customer needs in the best way possible. Likewise, we constantly make sure that the health of our customers is not affected while using our products.
You are also planning to use the production capacity of Nepal Shalimar Paints. What will be the range of products that will be produced within Nepal?
We are augmenting the existing capacity of Nepal Shalimar Paints. We have added some new paints grinding machines for better quality and higher production capacity. We will be using same technology of manufacturing as we do in Japan and India. So, there will not be any variation in the quality of products produced here. We will be producing a full range of products in Nepal that we currently manufacture in India such as water-based emulsion for both Interiors and exteriors along with solvent-based primers and top coats with ancillaries.
What are the products that you plan to launch soon in Nepal?
A complete range of Nerolac paints is being launched in Nepal as we were already doing business via our range of products by importing in the past. Now, we will be manufacturing the same in Nepal at our Birgunj plant.
The brand Nerolac is endorsed by popular celebrities like Shahrukh Khan. How do such endorsements add value to the brand that also influences the Nepali market?
Shahrukh Khan is a leading celebrity of Bollywood and has a huge fan base not only in India but across the globe including Nepal. The brand endorsement has given boost to our sales figures in India and the same is expected in Nepal as well.
Visiting Business People
‘Nepal is a Strategically Important Country to Focus Upon’
Jagannath Patanaik is the Director-Channel Sales (South Asia) of Kaspersky Lab India.
Kaspersky Lab is one of the fastest growing IT security vendors worldwide. Over 300 million people worldwide are protected by Kaspersky Lab products and technologies. Its corporate client base exceeds 200,000 companies located around the globe, ranging from small and medium-sized businesses all the way up to large governmental and commercial organizations. The Lab has more than 120 global partner and technology OEM agreements with companies and today, it’s the world’s largest privately held vendor of endpoint protection solutions. In an interview with New Business Age, Patanaik talked about Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2013 and market prospects for Kaspersky products in Nepal. Excerpts:
Can you please tell us the purpose of your current visit to Nepal?
We have just launched the new edition of Kaspersky internet security and Kaspersky mobile security anti-virus here in Nepal. Essential to any level of PC security is superior anti-virus protection that does not slow down your system. Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2013 has been loaded with the latest technologies that work behind-the-scenes while delivering real-time, cloud-enabled protection from the latest threats, and proactive protection from unknown dangers. It is the essential protection for your computer and mobile these days.
Tell us about some latest features of the new edition of Kaspersky 2013.
Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2013 is packed with the latest Kaspersky Lab technologies from our team of world-class security experts and engineers. It works surreptitiously with intelligent scanning and small, frequent updates, while delivering real-time protection. It goes beyond simply scanning for vulnerabilities and now includes analysis and control over the actions of programs and applications with vulnerabilities, so they cannot cause any harm. With a single mouse click, File Advisor uses cloud-based technologies to check the safety of any file you would like to access. In addition, our URL Advisor adds color-coded tags to all web links to advise you of the danger level of the link and subsequent pages. The users can fully enjoy the PC and Internet without being dragged down by security software. Small, smart updates and intelligent scanning operate behind the scenes while delivering maximum PC performance.
What is your assessment of the Nepali market for Kaspersky?
There is lack of purchase habit regarding software in South Asian market and Nepal is no different. Although being a piracy-oriented country, we need to motivate people to develop a habit to purchase software. However, we have been able to penetrate the market and make people understand the benefits of our product. Nepali market is indeed a challenging market for us. Nevertheless, we are able to make some enrollment. Today, we are talking about reducing the piracy in order to create a virus free Nepal slowly. We have begun to set up Kaspersky anti-virus in every government institution of Nepal for six months for the virus free Nepal campaign. Thus, we are highly positive about the Nepali market in the days ahead as well.
The Nepali market needs to grow. We are trying to educate people regarding the anti-virus security here. Nepal is one of the strategically important countries to focus upon. We are planning to provide security software services to 100,000 computers in Nepal so as to increase the awareness regarding genuine internet security.
Who are the targeted customers for Kaspersky?
Anybody who owns a computer is our target customer. Major targeted customers are the individual consumers and then we are also targeting the government institutions.
What do you consider to be the USP of Kaspersky amongst the targeted clientele here in Nepal?
As we know that online transactions are increasing each day, we have unique features in our new edition of Kaspersky 2013 known as “safe money”. Safe Money protects data during online financial transactions. Apart from it, the new Automatic Exploit Prevention ensures that vulnerabilities will not compromise your PC. Similarly, there is an improved version of Virtual Keyboard and Anti- Phishing protection guard against identity theft. A new Secure Keyboard mode protects personal data entered via physical keyboard. Anti-Spam and Anti-Banner protection block unwanted content. The new improved Advanced Parental Control keeps your children safe and responsible online. Hassle-free protection ensures maximum PC performance. All this makes Kaspersky irresistible for computer users all around the globe including Nepal.
Can you tell us about the innovative business solutions regarding the product?
In the consumer section, we have internet security anti-virus while in enterprises segment, we have Kaspersky security for virtualization. As people have started to use virtual machines, we are trying to use security solutions for cloud. Kaspersky workspace security (KOSS-1) deals with the protection for workstation and Centralized Administration Kit.
Kaspersky Business Space Security (KOSS-2) protects data, file Server, workstations etc. Similarly, Kaspersky Enterprise Space Security (KOSS-3) is for protecting e-mail Server, data, and file server. Kit Kaspersky Total Security (KOSS-4) protects internet gateway, email Server, data/file Server.
Do you currently have any competition for your product in Nepal? If yes, how do you plan to keep ahead of the competition?
Currently, we are leading the business. I think that continuous improvisation in the product has created a tough competition to our competitors.
What are your business plans for Nepal?
We operate through business channel partners and do not directly go to the market. We go through distributors and channel partners and do a lot of marketing in order to increase awareness and visibility. We are targeting piracy in order to increase our business. We are in the middle of a long tour to educate people regarding the benefits of the software even in Nepal.
How do you compare Nepali market with other markets for your product?
Nepali market is a unique one and we are the number one in this market. In India, we are in the second position. However, we are leading in most South Asian markets. The product is making us proud. We are increasing people’s awareness regarding Kaspersky being a reasonably priced product. With this product, the Nepali consumers can experience a sense of security while using the computer.
Visiting Business People
‘Our Main Strategy is to Customize Basic Products According to Nepali Customers’ Demand’
Milind Pandharipande is the CEO at ITS (Information and Telecom Systems) in India.
While pursuing his Masters in Computer Science in USA, he also worked as a research scientist for Horizon telecommunications USA. After some years, he returned to India and established his own company. His company had an effective operation from June 2006 and it began to roll out the products from 2010 onwards. Although it’s a fairly young company, he is confident about his business. He was in Kathmandu last month for launching his cash and check deposit machine. In an interview with New Business Age, Pandharipande talks about the importance of deposit machines in Nepali financial sector. Excerpts:
What is the purpose of your visit to Nepal this time?
The primary purpose of my visit to Nepal is to promote ITS’s self service Kiosk products, the ones which have been successfully deployed in India already. These products have been especially designed to work in conditions like extreme climate and power shortages which is common in countries like Nepal and India. Our products have been designed for the banking sector, the utility sector and are primarily focused on self service. If you are familiar with ATM machine where the customer can directly withdraw cash, our products can help customers not only withdraw the cash but also deposit the cash or check in his or his friend’s account.
What are the features of your products?
These products have multiple features, where a customer can perform cash deposit, check deposit, account-to-account money transfer, balance inquiry etc. For instance, I can enter my account number and then decide whether to make cash deposit or check deposit. If I make cash deposit, the machine will instruct me to put all my notes in a cash tray and it will accept it one note at a time. Once, all the notes are accepted, it will provide me a transaction receipt and my account will be credited for that amount. These products are fitted with high performance security system which has made them robust. A type of mechanism has been built into it including a back-up UPS. Also, if the machine is stolen, it will automatically inform the law enforcement agencies. Every tampering with machines, either physical or software is recorded and transmitted to the enforcement agencies. This way the machine becomes a formidable piece of hardware.
Who are your target group of customers?
We are basically promoting these products for Nepal’s banking and financial sector. And obviously, the major customers are the banks, finance companies and utility companies, for instance, mobile operators. There are also clients from electricity companies and other companies who are into financial transactions.
How are you promoting your business in Nepal?
We are talking to the news media basically the ones who can promote our products. We are seeking promotion of these products from our local partner World Distribution Nepal (WDN). It is difficult for someone coming from India to spread their business covering the entire country of Nepal. For quick penetration, we need other local partners here who can introduce the products in the market.
What are your plans to attract more number of people using your services?
We have tried to make our products customer friendly and are also offering more features on it. The only way that we can grow our business is by local customization. We cannot just bring the products from India and sell in Nepal. We ask consumers how they want to customize them. Like, if I offer coffee to you, I would not prepare coffee against your interests. I would ask how much milk and sugar you want which makes you very comfortable to drink that coffee rather than me telling you to drink coffee of my choice. Our main strategy is to bring the basic products that have been developed in India and then customize it according to the demand of the customers in Nepal, for instance, language customization. Customers from Nepal might be interacting or having certain bank transaction differently than what we have customized for Indian customers. That is why we consider local customization a key to our success.
How can Nepali Industries benefit from your products?
It is not just Nepali industries, it is important for overall businesses in Nepal. For instance, if I ask my customers to come between nine in the morning and five in the evening and suggest that I can sell the products only during this time, the customers may not feel comfortable to shop. Instead of that, if you take your shop to where the customers are, you will be able to flourish your business. Likewise, with these machines, customers can get service anytime, anywhere. We are bringing these products to our neighborhood and it could be operated 24hrs/7days. This will absolutely raise the number of customers and the bank’s revenue will increase. Many a time, customers do not pay utility bills not because they do not want to pay but because they do not have the avenues to pay. When the bank is closed after five, customers look forward to the next day. With these products, they will be able to deposit their cash after 10 pm also without having to go to the branch office. It is like an ATM machine where you can withdraw your cash rather than having to wait for the bank.
How do you observe the market demand for your products?
We will follow the same strategies what ATMs in Nepal have already been following. Every year, we have been doubling the features that are getting deployed. There has been a high demand for our products in Nepal. Nearly four banks have shown interests in our products who are likely to start using our products soon.