Saturday May 26, 2018

Curry masala restaurants at risk of closing down in London

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London: Who does not know curry in the UK? Solely identified with Indian food menu, curry has become a palatable source of ethnic food for Britishers. But it seems that things are changing now as the Indian food industry faces a threat of losing business in England.
NewsGram brings you an exclusive report by Reuters from London.

The great British tradition of going for a curry on a Friday night appears to be dropping by the wayside, with an estimated 12,000 curry houses disappearing. As Joel Flynn reports, culture, not just cuisine, might be to blame.It’s lunchtime in the Bengal Clipper kitchen, and chicken tikka masala a British favourite is being prepared. This isn’t the busiest time of day, but that’s not slowing down head chef Mohammed Asrar, from the Bihar region of India.

It’s lunchtime in the Bengal Clipper kitchen, and chicken tikka masala a British favourite is being prepared. This isn’t the busiest time of day, but that’s not slowing down head chef Mohammed Asrar, from the Bihar region of India.

He has worked for years to be able to blend spices, but when it comes to customers, the Clipper and its curry competition are facing slimmer pickings than ever.

Business is down and changing tastes are to blame, according to Bengal Clipper owner, Mukit Choudhury. He said, “The old generation, they’ve gone back behind and the new generation took over the place, and since then I find the Indian restaurant is slowly, slowly coming down.”

Costs too are a big problem. While the price of a curry might barely have changed in the last few years or even decades, the weakness of the pound and the rising price of spices is hitting the bottom line. Rents in the capital, in particular, have also risen, but it’s staffing that’s the biggest worry.

SOUNDBITE: Reuters Reporter, Joel Flynn, said “Much is at stake and not just for the industry itself. Curry houses employ 100,000 people in Britain, many of them famously here on Brick Lane in London, and as far as sales are concerned, according to a government committee on curry, it’s worth more than 4.2 billion pounds a year.”

If current trends continue, the Bangladeshi Caterers’ Association expect up to a third of curry houses to go bust. But while many might publicly lament the dying off of a great British institution, restaurant footfall suggests curry might not be on the menu much longer. (image: Manjula’s kitchen)

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Hero Cycles to Grow 60% by 2022 and UK Will Help It

Sreeram said the UK operations would not only go a long way to help the company grow at a robust pace but would also transform the way it caters to the Indian market.

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Sreeram said it was natural for Hero Cycles to
Hero Cycle to grow by expanding in uk, wikimedia commons

As India’s iconic Hero Cycles makes inroads into the UK and European markets with the launch of 75 bikes under its new “Insync” brand, the worlds biggest bicycle manufacturer aims to grow by over 60 per cent over the next four years, says Sreeram Venkateswaran, head of the companys UK operations.

He said that from a $800-850 million company (across all its businesses, including automotive), it is poised to become $1.3 billion to $1.4 billion company by 2022, with Europe and bicycles being an “extremely important component” of that growth story.

Sreeram told IANS in an interview that with the launch of the Insync brand, the company not only aims to penetrate the mid-premium segment of the European market but also transform the way it caters to the Indian market.

In 2015, Hero Cycles had acquired the UK’s Avocet Sports to expand its footprint into Europe and Sreeram was appointed Avocet CEO. Last year, the company opened a global design centre in Manchester to design bicycles of global standards. The 75 new cycles are the first of the lot designed at the $2.7 million Hero Cycles Global Design Centre.

Sreeram said it was natural for Hero Cycles to “get out of the well called India” if it had to transform itself into a strong global player from “value perspective” from being one of the largest manufacturers from a “volume perspective”.

The 75 new cycles are the first of the lot designed at the $2.7 million Hero Cycles Global Design Centre.
Cycling, Representational image- Pexels

“Just from the figures perspective, India does about 17 million bicycles a year and the total value is $1 billion. UK does about 2.75 million bicycles a year and the business is worth about $2 billion to $2.1 billion. Europe does about 21 million bicycles and the business is about $12 billion,” he said.

At the same time, the company’s Europe and UK plans are in sync with its growth plans in India, Sreeram said.

With India’s medium- to high-end cycling segment growing at about 25-27 per cent over the last one-and-a-half years, Hero Cycles plans to optimise the Insync brand models for the Indian market and then take them back home.

“Also, having the ownership of Firefox in India, which is clearly the market leader in the mid to high-end bikes, we are well poised to garner a disproportionate share of the growth as the market starts to grow,” he said.

Sreeram said the UK operations would not only go a long way to help the company grow at a robust pace but would also transform the way it caters to the Indian market.

“UK happens to be in a very nice cusp of market development. It’s about three to four years behind mainland Europe and it’s about three to four or five ahead of the Indian development cycle.

As Indias iconic Hero Cycles makes inroads into the UK and European markets with the launch of 75 bikes under its new "Insync" brand
Hero Cycles to expand in UK, pexels

“What it does from a business perspective is that while usually a bike range has shelf life of one year, a facility in Manchester gives me an opportunity to extend that shelf life to three to four years,” Sreeram said.

“So any investment I make into design and development of bicycles here in this facility has actually four times the value that can be extracted compared to any other company which is solely based out of Europe or the UK and selling only in this market. That’s a huge advantage,” Sreeram said.

Also Read: Indian Art Forms in International Festivals Through Sands of Culture Series

The facility in the UK and designing bikes for the European market make it necessary for the company to also keep updating the design and manufacturing team back home in India to bring it at par with what is required by a European customer, he added.

“So they start looking at quality from not what a guy in Latur would want but as what a guy in Luxemburg will want. That’s the difference we have to create even from a quality perspective.

“These are the kinds of things that are slowly getting imbibed in the entire manufacturing chain which makes us a much more robust and stronger company,” he added. (IANS)