Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Franchising: A Win-Win Situation

With the IACC Chairman 
The Consulate had the great pleasure of hosting Assistant Secretary of Commerce Nicole Lamb-Hale and a delegation of American companies this week.  The companies visited Mumbai, Hyderabad and New Delhi to explore interest in India in the franchises they represented.  Most of the companies were offering opportunities for investors to license food and restaurant franchises, and that this is an area where American companies have a record of success was demonstrated by an event that the Assistant Secretary attended during the visit: the celebration of the 200th Subway sandwich franchise in India.  But whether we’re talking about a franchised Denny’s Restaurant or a new Radio Shack outlet, the high level of interest we saw in Hyderabad was a clear indication of how valuable these kinds of opportunities are for both sides. 
Of course the American companies are excited about the potential in India’s massive population and high rate of economic growth.  But Indians are also excited about the possibility of adopting proven best practices, participating in brands with worldwide recognition, and delivering their customers guaranteed top quality products.  It was great to be part of the process, and after all of eight months in India, I enjoyed with some trepidation being turned to by the visitors as an expert on the local market environment.
While I might not be an expert on India, one of the things that was brought home to me was how much I have dropped out of touch with some of what’s going on in the U.S. today—and how knowledgeable many Hyderabadis are about my country.  Some of the visitors represented relatively new, fast-growing chains that I’d never heard of-- like the “Which wich” restaurant--but our Indian guests at a reception knew just who they were.  I told the visitors I thought the strong links between Andhra Pradesh and the United States made this the best prospective market in India for their success.
The visitors were here less than 24-hours.  While I think their short visit was enough to show them what I meant about this being an ideal environment, it wasn’t nearly long enough for both Indian and Americans to exploit the win-win potential of the trade mission.  I told the visitors that I hope to welcome them back soon to finalize deals, and when they return, they need to make time to visit some of the state’s other population centers, like Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam.  I’m determined to build more U.S.-India connections throughout my consular district.

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