Barista looks at non-metros to drive growth


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Press Trust of India ( )

Unfazed by the growing competition from new players as well as international chains, coffee house Barista is now looking beyond metro cities to expand its footprint and drive growth, according its CEO Rajat Agrawal.

From coffee giants Tim Hortons, Tata Starbucks, and the recently opened Pret A Manger to local coffee-related startups such as Blue Tokai, Sleepy Owl, and Rage Coffee, everyone seems to be betting big on the growing coffee culture in the traditionally tea-drinking nation.

However, the Barista CEO says a “large level of catch-up” has to be done by new players, as the homegrown coffee chain plans to expand rapidly.

Barista, which opened its 350th store in India, in Udaipur (Rajasthan) last month, looks to reach 500 stores in the coming two years. The brand is currently present in over 100 cities.

“Now that we are already 350th, we are much above or far in terms of our number of stores presence. We have already outgrown some of the newer brands which have just come in. There is a large level of catch-up which has to be done. We are also growing at a certain rapid pace with about 60-70 outlets per year,” Agrawal told PTI in an exclusive interview.

Incepted in 2000, Barista, which for many was among the first brands that introduced Indians to the Italian coffee experience, is now looking “beyond metros” where it has been successfully operating over the past two decades.

The brand is witnessing a lot of “new growth” in the non-metros in the last two-three years, according to Agrawal.

“The way the infrastructure is getting developed in the country and the way people are travelling, now, even non-metros people are very educated about what they are consuming and a branded product is always an aspirational value, so again there is a certain cheque size which you can command even in a non-metro city which about 10 years back was something alien to you,” he said.

He also spoke about the huge gulf between the average consumption of coffee in India and the Western countries and said India’s coffee culture, which has only started to pick up in the last 6-7 years, has a “huge potential” for every player to grow.

The average Indian drinks barely 100 grams of coffee per year in comparison to 12 kg per annum by a person living in Western countries, pointed out Agrawal.

“You see the catch-up which India has to do to be even closer to some of the international market dynamics, that’s where we see the huge potential for all of us to grow and the industry to evolve in the near future,” he added.

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