Friday, 29 August 2014

LINKING THE DOTS: Rollatainers, Wendy's, Jamie's Italian, Barista and Saurabh Khanijo

The parent company of the entity bringing Wendy's into India has yet another hospitality industry subsidiary, which has just acquired Barista and picked up an undisclosed stake in Saurabh 'Kylin' Khanijo's Welgrow Hotel Concepts. It's also getting Jamie's Italian, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's highly successful international restaurant chain, into India. These multiple forays are the first in the hospitality business for the parent company, which is a market leader in the business of manufacturing lined cartons for clients as varied as Amul and Gillette.

By Sourish Bhattacharyya
WHEN Economic Times broke the story of Rollatainers and the London-based International Market Management (IMM) bringing America's third-largest burger chain, Wendy's, to India through a jointly owned subsidiary named Sierra Nevada, a number of eyebrows shot up. What is Rolltainers and how is it linked with the food business?
For starters, not many may know that Rollatainers, one of the country's largest packaging companies based out of Haryana, has just picked up Barista, the country's second-largest cafe chain with 190 retail outlets across India, UAE, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar. The lock-stock-and-barrel acquisition, which includes Barista's central commissary, 65,00-litres-a-month ice-cream plant and four warehouses in Gurgaon, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata, was made by Carnation Hospitality, a Rolltainers subsidiary powering the company's foray into the hospitality sector.
Saurabh Khanijo, who's behind the successful
Kylin brand of restaurants, is the man to look out
for as Rollatainers, a Haryana-based packaging
company, prepares to launch Wendy's and
Jamie's Kitchen in India in 2015.
The subsidiary, according to, quoting a stock market disclosure made by Rolltainers, one of the country's leading manufacturers of printed and lined cartons, has also "entered into separate business purchase agreements with Welgrow Hotel Concepts and Mapple Hospitality to operate their brands". The firm, according to the authoritative M&A news website, did not say if it has acquired the brands owned by the firm or picked up stake in the two companies.
Started by poultry farmer-turned-travel agency operator-turned-restaurateur Saurabh Khanijo, Welgrow Hotel Concepts runs a chain of eateries across formats under the Kylin brand as well as the high-end Italian restaurant, Sartoria. Mapple Hospitality, launched in November 2009, runs a chain of budget hotels in Delhi/NCR and a host of business and leisure destinations, and operates the luxury train, The Golden Chariot, in Karnataka and Goa.
The only connection that the publicly listed Rollatainers has had thus far with the food and beverage sector is that some of its major players are clients for the cartons rolled out by the company. These big brands include Amul, Bacardi, Britannia and Haldirams. And of course, it launched its business in 1970 by producing lined cartons for Brooke Bond. Very little is known about its partner in these big-ticket acquisitions, International Market Management (, except that it focuses on emerging markets and its Chief Executive, Jasper Reid, was behind bringing PizzaExpress to India.
It is Reid who has been behind the other major Rollatainers initiative, carried out under a Carnation Hospitality subsidiary named Dolomite Restaurants Pvt. Ltd., to bring Jamie's Kitchen first to New Delhi in 2015 and eventually take it to different parts of India. The celebrity chef behind Jamie's Kitchen, Jamie Oliver, has been quoted by M&C Report, as saying, "We have known our Indian partners for over two years now and I'm thrilled to be teaming up with them to bring the Jamie's Italian experience to the wonderful people of Delhi." Nice-sounding PR lines, but indicative, nonetheless, of the amount of due diligence that has gone into the deal.
Sanjay Chhabra is the name that appears in press statements on all these deals. This Delhi/NCR-based businessman, a mechanical engineer by training with an MBA in Marketing, is a director of Rollatainers and also the independent non-executive chairman of the board of Amtek India Ltd, a leading iron casting company in the business of manufacturing automotive parts. And as we had reported earlier, in the Jamie's Kitchen initiative, Welgrow's Khanijo is the go-to man for Chhabra, who's still wetting his feet in the food and beverage business.