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Squeezing an opportunity
Anuradha Kapoor | August 27, 2003
Which is the hippest hangout in the metros after coffee bars and pubs? The juice bars, of course. It's not only cool -- literally -- to be seen there, but also reflects that you're a health freak.
In fact when the former Lacoste managing director Jayant Kochar set up Amoretto Retail Pvt Ltd to launch his juice bar brand Amoretto's in Delhi's posh Vasant Vihar area, he did not know that he'd be chalking out an ambitious expansion strategy so soon.
Today, Kochar is already talking of opening 30 juice bars in a year, "at least two to three every month", he says. Amoretto's currently operates eight bars in three cities.
Sitting in his Connaught Place outlet, Nivesh Khandelwal, director, Tropical Smoothies, is drafting a similar story.
He opened his first juice bar in the city three months back and is eyeing six more by the end of the year in the National Capital Region. Of course, by 2010, Khandelwal is looking at 117 outlets across the country.
"Juice bars were waiting to happen here. After all, India is a hot country and there is an abundance of fruit," points out Kochar.
Both Amoretto and Tropical Smoothies seem to have been inspired by the juice bar culture prevalent in some US states.
Khandelwal, approached an American chain called Tropical Smoothies. He was quick to spot the opportunity in India as he felt that while there was a proliferation of gyms, there weren't any eating joints that catered to the needs of the health freaks.
That the two are bang on target is evident from their growth plans. Both Amoretto's and Tropical Smoothies hope to exploit the shopping mall culture to their advantage.
"We are talking to malls to set up kiosks," says Kochar. However, his current expansion strategy is based on opening company-owned outlets rather than rope in franchisees.
Amoretto's is targeting Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chandigarh. It is also planning a Dubai launch next summer.
With urban India turning increasingly health-conscious, the size of the market for juice bar owners is encouraging.
Needless to say, the juice bars are selling themselves on the health plank. Fresh fruit is healthy, but what's available on a thela is unhygienic.
The tetrapak juice is a better option than a fizzy drink, but it's not fresh and a cola has 200 empty calories, points out Kochar.
"A glass of fresh juice has 110 calories plus all the vitamins as it is made fresh," he adds.
Besides, juice bars like Amoretto's and Tropical Smoothies also incorporate additional nutrients such as whey protein and wheatgerm.
The bars also offer light snacks. The food at Tropical Smoothies, for instance, is grilled and uses low fat mozzarella cheese.
Most of its recipes are as per the American standards laid down by the parent company. But it has introduced Indian flavours such as litchi and phalsa.
To further expand its market, Amoretto's is working on sugar free options for diabetics, a karela booster with fennel and wheat grass and barley grass.
"It is a very creative business. There are endless combinations and endless colours," says Kochar.
Besides, Amoretto's is open to the idea of hosting birthday parties at its outlets to increase traffic.Kochar claims Amoretto's may break even in three years. "But the way things are going, it could be faster." Whether the concept really makes a splash remains to be seen.