Thursday, 26 September 2013

Samir Kuckreja Re-Elected NRAI Prez in a Year of Challenges and Success

By Sourish Bhattacharyya

SAMIR KUCKREJA, the suave and articulate former CEO and MD of Nirula’s who now runs his own consultancy company, Tasanaya Hospitality, was re-elected president of the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) at its 31st annual general meeting (AGM) in New Delhi on Tuesday, September 24.
Samir Kuckreja gets another
term as NRAI president
Manpreet Gulri, Development Agent and Country Head, Subway Systems India, and Riyaaz Amlani, MD, Impresario Entertainment and Hospitality, more famous as the man behind Mocha and Smokehouse Grill, were vice-presidents. Established local restaurateurs Kabir Advani (Berco’s) and Manpreet Singh (Zen and Tao) were voted treasurer and secretary respectively of the national body, which is now in its 31st year, and has 1,200-plus members across 20 cities.
NRAI was in the news for two good reasons this year. The first was its victory in the Delhi High Court, thanks mainly to the persuasive arguments of Lalit Bhasin, in the case that saw the honourable judges uphold the contention that herbal hookahs didn’t come under the purview of the Control of Tobacco Products Act. The second, and in my opinion the more commendable achievement, was the release of the India Food Services Report 2013, which effectively highlighted the economic contributions of the restaurant industry and made the government sit up and take note of the fact.
The report, which was released by Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma earlier this year, reported that the contribution made by the restaurant industry to the country’s GDP was almost seven times more than the hotel sector. The industry, whose total turnover is pegged at INR 247,680 crore, is said to be expanding at 11 per cent and is projected to scale to INR 408,040 crore by 2018.
Of this vast pie, the organised segment controls 30 per cent of the business, which works out to INR 67,995 crore, and if it maintains a steady combined average growth rate (CAGR) of 16 per cent, it can reach INR 145,770 crore by 2018. A people intensive industry, restaurants provide direct employment to 5 million people and indirectly provide jobs to another 7-8 million.
That the government has started taking the NRAI as a serious advocacy group is apparent from the trade body’s inclusion as a key partner in an inter-ministerial group set up by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. In Maharashtra, too, the NRAI is represented on the committee that the Chief Secretary has set up to examine various issues raised by the association and to simplify licensing procedures in the state. It has also been working closely with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
Looking ahead, Kuckreja said in an interview with Indian Restaurant Spy that the association will address the “big challenge” of training the frontline staff. The NRAI has tied up with the IL&FS Skills Development Corporation to drive this effort, which is on top of the association’s agenda, apart from growing its membership and opening new chapters (at present, it has active chapters only in Mumbai and Bangalore). “This is important because the issues confronting the industry are largely local,” Kuckreja said, adding that the association will continue to be a leader in government advocacy.
The AGM also elected a new managing committee, which comprises: Ajay Kaul, CEO, Jubilant FoodWorks (Domino’s); Amit Jatia, Vice Chairman, Hardcastle Restaurants (McDonald’s India-West and South); Gaurav Jain, MD, RTC Restaurants India (Ruby Bar and Grill); Jay Singh, Co-Founder and Executive Director, JSM Corporation (Hard Rock Café and Shiro); Monish Gujral, MD, Moti Mahal Deluxe Tandoori Trail; Niren Chaudhary, MD, Yum Restaurants India (Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell); Rahul Singh, Coach and Founder, Beer Café; Rohan Jetley, VP, Bistro Hospitality (TGIF); Sandeep Anand Goyle, CEO, Essex Farms; Sanjay Coutinho, CEO, Baskin Robbins; Santosh Jindal, Director, Jade Garden Restaurant; Sunil Lamba, MD, Kwality Group; Tarsillo Nataloni, Director, Flavors; Vipin Luthra, Chairman & MD, The Palms Town and Country Club; Vyoum Ghai, Director, Suribachi and Buzz.