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Saturday, Jun 15, 2002

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Barista `brewing' Rs 100-cr turnover

Ratna Bhushan

NEW DELHI, June 14

THE brew is frothing. About one year after Tata Coffee Ltd acquired a strategic 34.3 per cent equity stake in Barista Coffee Company (BCC), the latter has formulated its target.

The country's fastest growing coffee retail chain, eight per cent of which is owned by employees, has projected a targeted turnover of Rs 100 crore by March 2003, against Rs 25 crore with which it closed March 2002.

Mr Sandeep Vyas, Executive Vice-President - Marketing & Communication of the one-and-a-half years old Barista Coffee Company Ltd (BCC), told Business Line that the chain was aiming at a `pervasive presence' of specialised coffee parlours in both existing and fresh markets. "We are looking for balanced growth both through Espresso Bars and coffee corners'', Mr Vyas said.

For setting up coffee corners, for example, BCC intends to tap the premises of corporate offices and banks, family entertainment centres and bookshops, and places of travel such as airports. Within the corporate sector, its coffee corners already exist within the premises of GE, Hughes Software, ABN-Amro Bank and HSBC, besides having a presence across all Taj group properties. BCC is now in talks with shopping malls in Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai and Ahmedabad (with Zee Network's E-city).

The chain today threw open its 89th Espresso Bar in Delhi. BCC intended to explore fresh markets in addition to the 15 cities the chain currently had a presence in.

"We intend to be operating 250 fully company-owned and managed coffee bars and corners by March 2003, several of which would be in cities we have not yet entered. One example is that of Vadodara'', Mr Vyas said.

Meanwhile, the chain is ramping up its home brew segment, which it had entered last year. The Barista coffee home brews are being sold through the chain's Espresso Bars in Delhi and Mumbai, and through its corporate Web site.

On whether BCC will tap the conventional retail segment, Mr Vyas said, "It's too early to comment, but we are not ruling out that distribution channel in the long-term''.

Henceforth, BCC intends to associate the Barista brand with properties such as music, soft adventure sports, art and photography. Tie-ups with Sony Music and French bottled water brand Evian have already been inked. The Barista brand has been extended to coffee-centric merchandise.

Meanwhile, a toll-free national call centre was installed last week, to allow consumers across the country to call any Barista parlour for related information and assistance.

The company continues to import about seven per cent of origin coffees from Venice.

According to Mr Vyas, 66 per cent of national-level bar sales come from coffee, with food accounting for the remaining 34 per cent.

The chain's global expansion strategy, meanwhile, was being fine-tuned, he said.

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