The ongoing vaccination drive in India is reviving McDonald's business prospects, even as the QSR brand has witnessed healthy growth in Tier II cities.
The McDonald's India - North & East is owned and operated by Connaught Plaza Restaurants (CRPL).
In a conversation with IANS, Sanjeev Agrawal, Chairman and Developmental Licensee, CRPL, said that McDonald's India - North & East is now looking at technology, restaurant reimaging and menu innovation to drive growth in 2021 and beyond.
"We had entered 2020 with a strong momentum, and like many other organisations, Covid has hit us too. We are optimistic that the country's mass vaccination drive will play a pivotal role in more customers returning for dine-in visits at our restaurants," he said.
According to Agrawal, to counter the pandemic's impact, the company had introduced 100 per cent contactless ordering and WhatsApp-based McDelivery service in 2020 to promote safe food consumption.
"As a result, we are witnessing significantly increased restaurant visitors at most of our drive-through outlets and the McDelivery channel, which exceeds the pre-Covid level. Our business is recovering gradually with steady month-on-month improvement with Tier 2 cities leading the growth trajectory more than it used to, giving us the confidence that the customer sentiment has improved significantly," Agrawal said.
On the changing demand behaviour, he cited that consumers are avoiding large gatherings and instead opting for a contactless experience which has become a norm.
"The customers are exploring options that reassure safety or they are ordering online to avoid exposure. Our customers have shown trust and confidence in our safety measures, which we have implemented under our 'Global Safety+' programme," he said.
In terms of future growth of the brand, Agrawal pointed out that the company is assessing opportunities to build presence in the emerging markets.
The QSR brand will be completing 25 years in India this October. Its first restaurant was opened at the Basant Lok in New Delhi in 1996.
"The Indian QSR segment is a very exciting and dynamic space, offering huge opportunities for growth. While 25 years is a relatively long period, our focus is to continue assessing opportunities to build our presence in the emerging markets and to evolve our menu as per the Indian taste preferences," Agarwal said.