KEY TO THE GATE OF SUCCESS IN THE FOOD INDUSTRY

TAHIR KHAN
July 23 - 29, 2007

A food industry is an establishment that serves prepared food and beverages to order, to be consumed on the premises. The term covers a multiplicity of venues and a diversity of styles of cuisine. Restaurants are sometimes also a feature of a larger complex, typically a hotel, where the dining amenities are provided for the convenience of the residents and for the hotel to maximize their potential revenue. Such restaurants are often also open to non-residents. Restaurants range from unpretentious lunching or dining places catering to people working nearby, with simple food served in simple settings at low prices, to expensive establishments serving refined food and drinks/juices in a formal setting. In the former case, customers usually wear casual clothing and in the latter case, depending on culture and local traditions, customers might wear semi-casual, semi-formal, or even in rare cases formal wear. Restaurants often specialize in certain types of food or present a certain unifying, and often entertaining, theme. For example, there are seafood restaurants, vegetarian restaurants or ethnic restaurants. Generally speaking, restaurants selling local food are given names common to the locals, while restaurants selling food of foreign origin are called accordingly, for example, a Chinese restaurant. Depending on local customs and the establishment, restaurants may or may not serve alcoholic beverages. In Pakistan, restaurants are often prohibited from serving alcohol, however 5-star hotels have been licensed to offer alcohol to non-Muslims foreigners and that too not in public. In economics, restaurants are the end of the supply chain in the foodservice industry. There is usually much competition in most cities and therefore restaurants are heavily regulated to ensure the health and safety of the customers and at the same offer them variety of quality food.

HASHOO GROUP

Since Hashoo group has the biggest chain of hotels, I availed myself of the opportunity to interview Raja Irfan Ullah, General Manager Pearl Continental Hotel Rawalpindi and Mr. James Gerard Sause, Vice President Food & Beverages, Hashoo Group with regards to food industry.

According to Raja Irfan Ullah, the GM PC Rawalpindi, we carry out time to time research on the eating habits of the people of the country and our foreigner guests, which gives us continuous knowledge and drive to keep our menus rolling. Greater number of health conscious and gourmands prefer to dine at our various outlets amid convenience, higher standards of hygiene, and attractive ambience. We also keep on shuffling with compositions to offer local patrons a place to gather, meet friends, sip variety of soft and fancy drinks such as Viennese Chocolate, Mexican Sunrise, Pina Colada, Kiwi Story, Park Lane Punch, Cherry Cooler, Margaite (minted), Mexican Cold Chocolate, quaff multiple flavoured Coffee Beans Arabic Italy: Americano, Latte, Moccachino, Cappuccino, Cold Coffee with Ice Cream, Espresso, Mexican Cold Coffee, and enjoy casual dining experience amid live music. The décor of eatery is of immense importance. Restaurants cater to different styles of cuisine, price brackets, and religious requirements. People especially the youngsters or those cutting short the preliminaries, resort to fast food as well and therefore we have Front Page café. Many students attending classes during the day or work an evening job, pick up fast food when they clock out. "They're looking for something fast and inexpensive, and I'm not always sure that nutritionnutrition is on the forefront of their minds. We also take into account the rising household incomes, increasing urbanization, changing lifestyles and the rapid growth of the private-sector and dairy-processing industry should lead to greater demand for value-added, milk-based products. The growth rate of soft drink sales and growing popularity of fruit juice drinks and bottled water are also considered. Our PR/Marketing team is always on the toes and closely observers the market behaviour, key issues and facts such as:

How many fast food, traditional food, continental food, foreign origin food etc. are endeavoring to elbow into the market?

What is the per head food consumption in various food product segments?

What is the future outlook of per head consumption of various food products and beverages in organized food retailing and processed food industry?

What is the market size and scope of the organized food retailing?

What and where are the growth prospects for the industry and which issues are proving to be bottlenecks for the growth of the industry?

What are the growth driving factors in this industry?

Who are the major competitors in the twin cities food retail industry and processed food industry, and what strategies they are adopting to gain from the industry?

What opportunities that we have missed, exist for the industry?

The aforementioned concerns give us a fair idea how to maintain our market share.

Hashoo Group hotels have the maximum restaurants in the country in terms of number of annual transactions in restaurant business, number of customers, and geographic reach. We accomplished this milestone by respecting and honoring our clients and our agents and developing the smartest and most innovative business model in the restaurant industry said the GM. He said that our employees are professionals as it is not just the food that one serves, it should be supplemented with negotiation tactics, diplomatic solutions to difficult situations, and other important aspect of running a restaurant. In order to satisfy a guest, it is mandatory to offer the highest quality restaurant services, to make selling experience as simple and informative as possible, and as pain-free as possible as customers are the foundation of our business, and respect and honor of our team members is the cornerstone of our firm.

Mr. James Gerard Sause, as mentioned earlier, is the Vice President Food & Beverages of Hashoo Group. He has experience of over 30 years in the food and beverage industry. He governs F&B of all the Hashoo Group hotels in Pakistan such as Pearl Continentals and Marriotts. He started out with the family owned hotels, progressed the branded hotels after college, was involved in many aspects of culinary development with the US based cruise lines for over 14 years. Responding to a question regarding food industry, Mr. James said, the resurgence in the market place of cruise lines was instrumental and hospitality market predominantly was a retirees' holiday, it's not transposing to a viable from children to retirement aged people and was instrumental in bringing that to offer of the vocational industry in the US.

About his rise journey in F&B, he said he started out predominantly in culinary business in the back of house business, worked through the executive chef position, corporate chef position in hotels leading to a food and beverage director position in hotels, currently the corporate head food and beverage at Hashoo group.

About Hashoo group, he viewed it as the most viable hospitality product in Pakistan. Keeping in view the competitive nature of this industry this would take Hashoo group to a next level in coming 24 to 36 months. Hashoo group is doing very good and has the competitive nature which would take this company to another level. We strive everyday in every property to deliver the goods to the guests whether it be a local patronage or a foreign patronage outstanding efforts are being made on our associates and development of associates and product procurement from around the world.

COMPETITION

"I see the competitors coming in the future pushing us to the next level, and the competitive nature of the hospitality industry makes us focus on the key factors. We being in the hospitality industry for so many years, have numerous advantages. As far as the competition is concerned it is an advantage for us, by no means is the market quoted by us but we will be the one to look at when it comes to foreigners and local development as well. We deal with all sorts of private industries; serve around 6500 meals a day to the largest air travel industry like PIA. We expect to grow in future in the private entities like the past two years'.

When asked what measures do you exercise with regards to food hygiene. Has Hashoo group developed food safety management complying with the latest hygiene regulations?

Our hygiene testing and quality control is all out sourced, they are all professionals in micro biology.

He said "we subscribe to food safety standards to the utmost in coordination with the Pakistan Safety and Health Board; we time and again, hold seminars at our various hotels regarding hygiene, which all our chefs from the Pearl Continentals and Marriotts attend. We also go for cross exposure training which again are attended by all our chefs, chief stewards and hygiene managers. We have manuals based on the US public health influence although we don't regulate it exactly the way we have our own specifications and different issues".

About Halal meat and other products he said, "the products we procure from overseas are all standardized and meet the requirement that Pakistan allows import of. A lot of our products are indigenous. Meat that we import from Australia for our steaks is halal meat. US beef, Australian beef, Argentinean beef, Italian beef and most preferably our local beef". He further added our food and beverage staff goes under medical examination very regularly from chief steward to all the assistants in the department. We have a hygiene manager at every property.

We have a quality control, quality assurance programme headed up by myself, in addition to that we have a corporate executive chef who makes rounds on regular basis to each property, we have Chinese corporate executive chef who visits all the properties and implements the Chinese menus in the restaurants of all the properties. We have corporate executive pastry bakery chef. Echo labs, which is an international company which provides us with some rules and specifications at each and every property we subscribe to their standards and hygiene policies and sanitation in all our properties. We implement standardization between our properties so as to take care of all our customers we keep a check in all properties what sort of diet is viable to its customers on restricted diets, whether they have to be careful of their diet because of medical reasons or any other reasons we make sure that they get what they want at all our properties. We all sort of dishes through which our customers can choose easily whatever they want to eat.

We use all natural products as much as we can; no genetically altered food or products are used in our hotels or system. We have a waste management system and recycling system throughout.

The best part of Hashoo group which makes it better than the rest is the associates that work within the group, we have good systematic implementation of our trainings, making sure that we provide the best product to our customers or guests in a timely manner. And after two to three years I see Hashoo group industry even better.