Spencer's, Au Bon Pain join hands for bakery cafe biz

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Kolkata, Jul 15 (UNI) Spencer's Retail Ltd, one of the largest food multi-format retailers under RPG Enterprises, today announced its tie-up with the US-based Au Bon Pain to launch a casual dining and bakery chain across the country, planning its first outlet in Bangalore by the year-end.

Informing this to newspersons here, RPG Enterprises Vice-Chairman Sanjiv Goenka said the joint-venture (JV) had been floated by Spencer's Retail Ltd and Mr Varin Narula, the director and promoter of Au Bon Pain in Thailand.

The JV, christened Novel Confectioners Ltd, would be the master franchisee.

However, Mr Goenka remained tight-lipped about the percentage of equity held by the firms in the JV.

Mr Goenka said the first flagship store would come up in Bangalore by December, sprawling over an area of 2,000 sq ft, along with its factory around the city.

Following this, in the next 18 months, 100 such standalone stores of average size 1,500 sq ft would come up in Tier I and Tier II cities in South India, he added.

''The total investment has been pegged at Rs 50 crore for the first two years,'' Mr Goenka said.

The vice-chairman informed that the JV firm would focus its activity in the country's southern region, adding that after its launching its store in Bangalore, the company would make its footmark at Hyderabad and Chennai.

Mr Goenka hinted that after focussing mainly on South India, the firm would eye for venturing into the northern, eastern and western parts of India, in a consecutive manner.

Au Bon Pain operates in more than 200 locations in the world, including the US, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand, the company's Senior Vice-President (Franchising) Bernard Platt said.

UNI SB DPM RN1533

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