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With many new burger companies rushing into India, is McDonald’s ready to protect its turf?

India’s huge population has always been a magnet for foreign companies in search of a growth market. Many consumer companies salivate while counting and recounting our huge middle class. The over-enthusiastic also refer to India as the last great consumer frontier. But not all stories have a happy ending and many companies have been disappointed by the return made here. That, however, has not stopped others from trying. The current rush in the quick service restaurant space is a prime example. Many burger chains have recently entered the country and many more are on the drawing board.

Sure, food habits and preferences have undergone a radical change, but is the optimism of the new entrants justified? For in India’s case, the much-quoted per capita consumption figure often overstates market potential. While every Indian does love to eat on the move or on impulse, much of the eating out action is still captured by dhabas and the local Udipis even today. That is because it doesn’t pinch the pocket much and for the value-conscious middle class, price has always been a driving factor.

The reigning leader in the organised burger and fries market, McDonald’s, too, has consciously positioned itself as an affordable eating out option. This pursuit, however, has come at the cost of profitability. The food services space has a high mortality rate and if McDonald’s has been able to stay the course, it is a function of menu localisation and deep pockets. Then, there is its legendary supply chain which has been the subject of countless case studies. With many new burger companies rushing in, McDonald’s readiness to protect its turf forms the subject of this issue’s cover story. You can read Ronald McDonald, We have Company to understand why its management believes it will be business as usual and how the newer entrants are positioning themselves.

Among other stories, you can see Why Value Investors Fancy J&K Bank to fathom why J&K Bank has caught the fancy of many a veteran value investor. There is also a feature titled Looking Beyond Tobacco on DS group, which has transformed from a tobacco-products seller into a homegrown FMCG-to-hospitality player.