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Mumbai caterers spreading wings

November 17, 2004 12:55 IST

After a slew of Mumbai-based speciality restaurateurs, it is the turn of a gourmet catering company to look at the Delhi market. Mayfair Banquets, a subsidiary of Ghai Enterprises, will formally start its banqueting services in Delhi next month.

The company, in a tieup with RG's restaurant, a unit of Leman International Ltd, will start its indoor and outdoor catering operations with an investment of Rs 4 crore (Rs 40 million).

According to Deepak Bassi, CEO, Mayfair Banquets, the Delhi venture is in keeping with the Rs 15-crore (Rs 150 million) company's nationwide plan. "We are projecting a turnover of Rs 22 crore (Rs 220 million) from our Delhi operations in two years," he says.

With projections of a total turnover of Rs 23 crore (Rs 230 million) from its catering business this year, the company has also tied up with Pune-based Corinthian Club to manage its banqueting facilities there. In 2005, the company plans to expand to Hyderabad and Bangalore.

Currently, the company owns four banquet rooms in Worli. Along with its institutional catering Tiffin brand, the company serves 3,000 meals daily in Mumbai.

Ghai Enterprises also owns Intercontinental hotel in Mumbai and Gaylord restaurant in Delhi, and is the master franchisee for Baskin-Robbins and Rich Cream, a non-dairy milk product brand, in India.

Experts say the domestic catering market is worth Rs 1,500 crore (Rs 15 billion), of which wedding banquets account for Rs 500 crore (Rs 5 billion). Besides the stand-alone catering companies, five-star hotels Taj and ITC too do outdoor catering. But most stand-alone caterers claim a 40 per cent price edge over hotels.

Catering companies offer tailor-made menus from regional Indian cuisines to Lebanese to Teppanyaki. "We can customise menus acording to the needs of the customer," says Pramuch Goel, manager, market communication, Old World Hospitality.

The company's Habitat World division owns 23 venues and its catering division, Events Etc, is promoting spa cuisine as a lunch option at corporate events. The two divisions serve 5,000 meals a day.

Says Charan Terence, group general manager of Season's Caterers, which had once organised a wedding event for 12,000 guests in Bhopal, "Catering sales vary from year to year, but most catering companies do about 60 per cent of their business in the peak season between October and March."

Bassi is not worried about competition in Delhi and thinks there is a vaccum in good quality banquet services. "Clients still want five-star quality at affordable prices," says Bassi.

"There is tremendous potential for stand-alone banquets in India, but we have to be constantly on our toes."
Maitreyee Handique in New Delhi