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“Our gross system sales are beyond Rs 150 cr”
Monday, 24 June, 2024, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
The Vits brand was launched in 2006, and is run by a team of leading hospitality professionals that provide guidance and execution to the entire chain of Vits hotels across Asia. Dr Vikram Kamat, founder and chairman of VitsKamats Group, shares his thoughts on the food and beverage industry, hospitality industry, sustainability and growth, in an email interaction with Kimberley Almeida. Excerpts:

The F&B industry has changed over the past few years. Comment.
Yes, a lot. Earlier, only traditional concepts exploded in the industry but now new innovative concepts cuisines and formats have appeared. In addition, there is a chance to explore innovative formats thanks to delivery cloud and outsourcing models in addition to innovation in food processing and technology.

Elaborate on the changes you have observed in the hospitality industry in India and abroad.
Lovely for India we had the opportunity just like in the case of the Internet where we were directly able to come to 4G and 5G similarly in the F&B industry we can leave and today we have food and beverages and concepts that are new-age and exciting.

Tell us about VitsKamats hotels, resorts, and restaurants – its journey since inception till date.
It's been a very exciting journey right from when the entire F&B-focused hospitality group was served by me and started when I was just 22. I am proud to say that ours was the first Indian company to focus on franchising that too for South Indian vegetarian restaurants and now everybody in Maharashtra, Gujarat and other places is franchising. Numerous similar innovations in training kitchen equipment marketing have been introduced by me since that time including marketing using clean washrooms as a USP which today has inspired the entire industry to keep the washrooms clean. And many more like this.

Give us details about the importance of food, ambiance, and hygiene in each of your establishments.
When it comes to our entire chain being from South Indian cuisine the basic tenets of hot, healthy and hygienic food is our Guru Mantra. These keywords summarise our entire food philosophy. And, is also the core reason for our overwhelming success.

What is the vision behind the 'Khas Academy'?
Khas Academy was something that I had always invested and it grew from the huge gap that I saw while people were paying lakhs for a degree and then getting entry or junior supervisory positions which defeated the purpose of studying for so long and paying so much. It is this disillusionment that today has caused degree colleges to have more than 50% seats empty yet when it comes to our Khas Academy skill programme, which is India's first and only hospitality earn-and-learn programme, we are having more demand than we can get here to and applied to double our seats each year. People are looking to be job ready and to be job ready you need to be able to do the work not just know the work. I often come across people passing out from hotel management college know a lot but can do nothing. Our focus is purely on job training and practical related training to get the job done which is why the students also are in high demand and get jobs easily. For example, in food production instead of teaching fancy stuff we are focused on teaching them dal-rice, roti, biryani, curries, idli, dosa, upma, poha, shira, tea and coffee. With this practical knowledge of making these items well to start with, one can easily get the job and the rest of the items can be learnt as per interest and on the job.

How do you stay ahead of the competition?
Our focus and specialisation mean that we are always ahead of competition because being so tuned to the ground we get the vibrations through intuition and observation. Of course, we keep improving through our constant learning, training, and observation to identify how we can continuously improve.

What are the difficulties faced in this industry in India?
I think the most obvious despite being such a huge employment generator and core industry that helps people the amount of red tape licensing and harassment is a huge hurdle to this industry which can easily create many more jobs and a lot more revenue.

What are your long-term goals for sustainability?
We focus on sustainability by ensuring our focus on people, planet and profits because if your people grow and develop and show sustainability if you focus on the planet and do what's right not just for the environment but for society as a whole you will be sustainable and of course, without profit, the business itself will not be sustainable long term.

The revenue this year is Rs 100-150 crore, what are your future plans for expansion?
Yes, our gross system sales are beyond Rs 150 crore. Our principal focus remains on growing the excellent commerce legacy and F&B brands that we have built in a very aggressive manner.

Any plans for collaborations with foreign markets?
Yes, because of our systems, processes, people and the strong brands that we have created of commerce and commerce legacy we are having huge interest from international markets where Indian and South Indian food has a huge potential and requirement. We have been invited by them and have had various talks and discussions on how to execute the same.
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