Wrapchic, the Birmingham based Indian burrito concept, plans to open 60 stores in the UK plus eight internationally by 2020, MCA has learnt.
The 11-strong group, which recently opened its first international store in Dubai, has immediate plans to open eight UK stores in as many months, and is looking for £5 million investment to fund its growth.
Founder Mahesh Raikar told MCA Wrapchic had found a gap in the market for grab and go Indian food, and revealed his ambition to become the Pret A Manger of Indian food.
The group has stores in nine UK cities and will continue its strategy of targeting high footfall, high traffic areas such as shopping centres and services stations, with negotiations ongoing to open in Bluewater and four motorways services this year alone, he said.
Raikar said: “We’ve got an appetite for seven or eight stores in the next eight to nine months.
“Overall we want to open 60 stores by 2020 – plus seven or eight internationally.
“We’re interested in India and New York but it’s still early days and we’re still contemplating. We have to be quite careful about how we spread ourselves.”
With a background running a catering company in his homeland of India, Raikar worked his way up the ranks at foodservice giant Compass Group to become brand manager, before opening the first Wrapchic and production ktichen in Solihul in 2012 with seed investment.
Wrapchic operates several sites in conjunction with Compass, including Leicester and Coventry universities.
Raikar is now looking for new investment to fund the next phase of growth.
“We’re speaking to key parties and should be able to finalise in the next four or five weeks”, he said.
“Overall we will probably need £5 million, which will fund the entire 60 stores.”
While Mexican style burritos and tacos are the format, Raikar said it was not a fusion as all the flavours were Indian.
“It is an Indianiased version of that format”, he said. “We’re bringing Indian food into a grab and go lunchtime market.
“People are quite comfortable with Indian food but it is usually a weekend, formal, sit down, £20 a head, two-hour experience.
“Unless you go to Pret and have a chicken tikka wrap, you can’t get it in an easy format, so that’s where we’ve been successful.
“Wrapchic is bringing some innovation to the lunchtime market. We are the Indian alternative to Pret and Eat in that respect.”
So far Wrapchic’s expansion has been managed through a combination of franchised and owned stores, but Raikar told MCA the focus would be largely on owned stores going forward.
Raikar’s background at Compass has helped Wrapchic win contracts, while the concept has targeted business people looking for a convenient lunch and alternative to sandwiches.
He said his background in catering and focus on flavour set Wrapchic apart from other lunchtime offers, with a ‘no fry’ policy appealing to increasingly health conscious consumers.
“Indian food in the UK is predominantly commercialised by Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities”, he added. “But the real depth of flavour is in regional cuisines, which with my background in India we’ve been able to bring out.
“We grind our own spices which costs us more than buying it off the shelves, but that’s what gives us the uniqueness and point of difference.”