Interview with Mr Rafiq Rangoonwala — a Pakistani who introduced international brands to the Pakistanis
PAGE: Tell me something about yourself and your organization, please:
Rafiq Rangoonwala: I am associated with food business for last 40 years. I started my career with KFC in Houston, worked in Caribbean looking after English speaking islands, later on was transferred to Middle East as Market Director of KFC, MENA Region. I moved to Pakistan at the end of 1999 as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of KFC till 2014. Also managed brands, like Pizza Hut, Hardees, Burger King, Harry Ramsden, Pizza Express, TGI Fridays, etc.
PAGE: What is your take about the ready-to-cook food and fast food sector in Pakistan?
Rafiq Rangoonwala: Ready to cook and ready to eat food is a growing market in Pakistan with the change in eating habits of dual and multiple income families for convenience. Frozen ready to cook food segment has seen significant growth witnessing new entrants in past few years. It will grow double-digit every year for next few years. Fast food is also growing but maturing at the same time. With the population growth and huge percentage of youth, both these segments will see significant growth, as they have penetrated mainly urban areas. With per capita income increasing, deeper penetration of internet is exposing the youth to various cultures so their appetite to try new cuisine along with desire for convenience will create huge potential and enlarge the market.
PAGE: Could you tell us about the input cost of the fast food sector and the bottom line in general?
Rafiq Rangoonwala: The input cost varies from brand to brand and the menu offerings. The input cost of local brands would be much lower than the international ones as their cost would be much on the lower side. Secondly, the way input cost is calculated is different. The bottom line in terms of percentage in fast food would be much lesser than casual or fine dine in whereas fast food works more on volume (penny profit).
PAGE: What are your views on the local fast food chains and the traditional restaurants?
Rafiq Rangoonwala: Local fast food chains have come a long way during last 10 years and have developed to a great extent competing with the foreign brands across the board, whether it be fried chicken, burgers or pizza. I see lots of growth potential in lower brands due to low input cost, less demand and hardly any dependency on imported food items or equipment.
PAGE: What must the government do to promote the food sector?
Rafiq Rangoonwala: Firstly, government should look at the food sector as service industry since it creates not only employment but generates tremendous amount of tax revenue. With the growing population of youth, we must support and facilitate the businesses that can create large number of employment and develop our human resources through training and transfer of technology.
Tax benefits should be given based on the number of employment especially females, individuals with special needs, tax collection, must help these businesses with lower corporate tax and subsidy on utilities.