GST slows growth plans of Speciality Restaurants

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KOLKATA: Speciality Restaurants, which operates a nationwide chain of fine and casual dining brands like Mainland China and Oh! Calcutta, has slowed down its expansion plans following the government’s decision to stop input credit under GST for the restaurant industry.

“We have no option but to slow down investments because we cannot get any input credit on setting up new restaurants, though outdoor catering and restaurants in star hotels can avail of it. In the new scenario, we will look at consolidation instead,” said founder and MD Anjan Chatterjee.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley’s decision has hurt Speciality Restaurants’ bottom line, which has dipped 12%. The company clocked a revenue of Rs 229 crore in the nine-month period of April-December in the current fiscal compared to its turnover of Rs 318 crore in 2016-17.

In its 25th year, the group currently has 125 units, including confectionery shops. Over the next 24 months, it will add eight to 10 units at an investment of Rs 40-45 crore, lower than what was initially planned. Several of the new units will be housed in space carved out of existing restaurants. “Some of our early restaurants like those in Andheri, Pune and Silver Spring Arcade in Kolkata have very large floor plates. We are trying to utilise them better by taking out a portion for another brand,” explained Chatterjee.

Most of the new units will be in the casual dining category and not fine dining where Speciality Restaurants had initially made its name. With smaller portions, less elaborate menus and pocket-friendly price points, this is the segment that Chatterjee intends to grow in future.

“Cafe Mezzuna and Asia Kitchen have been very popular. We have launched Gong in Pune that adds Japanese cuisine to the fare. A unit of Gong will come up in Silver Spring Arcade, Kolkata. We will also launch another brand called Spicery at Acropolis Mall in Kolkata that will be dominated by ethnic cuisine from east and northeast India. We will also open a micro-brewery called Episode in Kolkata’s Topsia,” said Chatterjee.

While the restaurant growth plan is conservative, it will be aggressive in expanding the confectionery business with 19 Dariole outlets in Kolkata over the next two years. Overseas, Speciality Restaurants plans to grow beyond Colombo, Tanzania and Dhaka with a unit in Dubai next month, followed by a restaurant in London within 12-18 months.

 

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