• Pizza Corner to franchise more in '03 to offset tough ''02

NEW DELHI -- After some restructuring in 2002, Pizza Corner said it will expand more through franchising in 2003.

According to the Financial Times, the company plans to franchise nine new units this year -- eight in North India and one in South India.

"We plan to open outlets in and around Delhi in cities like Chandigarh, Jalandhar and Jaipur," said Pizza Corner CEO Anoop Sequeria.

The company has franchised outlets in Pondicherry and Hyderabad.

Pizza Corner began to struggle when its northern operations didn't perform up to standards set by its stores in Delhi (the older section of New Delhi).

The company shut down and relocated some of its outlets, shifted its corporate office to New Delhi from Chennai and appointed Sequeria the new CEO. Former CEO and co-founder Antoine Bakhache was assigned to focus more on overall operations.

Sequeira led the company to outsource its supplies and commissary requirements to cut costs, and helped spur sales by offering value deals to customers.

"We managed to take our sales up by 25 percent and increase footfalls," Sequiera said.

In total, Pizza Corner wants to open 13 new outlets in the North this year, three by March in Delhi alone.

The company also plans to continue adding Express outlets in high-traffic turnover areas like highways and shopping malls.

Pizza Corner is owned by venture capital group Global Investment Partners and ICICI Venture, which holds a 33 percent equity stake. It has 29 outlets in Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Mysore, Hyderabad and Pondicherry.

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