Gloria Jeans is the first food chain providing gourmet coffee in Pakistan. In a short period of time, Gloria Jeans has become popular among teenagers as well as the older generation. Since 2007, Gloria Jeans has been offering quality food and coffee to millions of customers and has maintained its standard to date. Keeping its popularity in mind, IBEX exclusively talked to Liaqat Ali Khan, the man who brought this unique concept to Pakistan.
Please tell us about your professional background?
After graduating amid the top 5 students in Finance from IBA Karachi, I first worked at Picic Commercial Bank for four years. I was also employed at the Atomic Energy Commission for eight years before starting Gloria Jeans inPakistan.
Can you please tell us something about Gloria Jeans?
Gloria Jeans is an Australian coffee chain. I met the owners of Gloria Jeans through some of my family connections inAustraliaand discussed an opening inPakistan. The coffee concept was unique inPakistanand we were hesitant in opening a gourmet coffee shop in a country where people were fond of drinking lassi. In the beginning of 2007; we opened our first branch at Hussain Chawk. By the grace of Almighty, people appreciated the cafe giving us enough courage to open mo
re branches inLahore. It was the right time to bring the café culture toLahoreas there were not many places where people could spend quality time with friends or family. Currently, we have reached three provinces and are trying to open in the fourth province as well. The total fifteen chains of Gloria Jeans in Pakistan are all about maintenance of the quality of coffee and bakery items since the time of its establishment.
What is the present situation of café business in Pakistan?
Some critics believe that the café business has reached its saturation point but I think there is still more capacity but only if the café provides quality food and a comfortable environment. No one wants to spend money on low quality food or place. A key factor in the café business is to serve your clients with honesty and sincerity. There are different restaurants inLahoreandKarachiwho have successfully maintained their quality. In my opinion, the café business is establishing inPakistanand still has a long way to go.
What potential do you see in the food industry?
This industry will surely prevail here as people are well off and need the right place to spend their money. I believe in providing them the right place to invest their money. The key feature in this business is maintaining the quality.
Which region/location is most responsive in terms of sales?
Lahorehas been most responsive in terms of sales as people here are fond of eating good quality food.
Do you intend to open any other international restaurant chains other than Gloria Jeans?
Yes, we are planning to open another international chain and are in negotiations with the owners. The new chain will remain a surprise till its launch.
What is Gloria Jeans unique selling point ?
Besides the quality of food, there are various other parameters which have set Gloria Jeans apart from the rest of the cafes inPakistan. Our beverages have retained their quality since the opening. We are also proud of the fact that we were the first ones to introduce free wifi systems in cafes. We have been successful in breaking the stereotypical images of cafes as non family zones. It was the first café of its kind which attracted those who wanted to spend quality time with their families. As far as our menu is concerned we import all of our gourmet items from the main chain. I have always emphasized on food quality and keeping this in mind we do not serve kitchen cooked meals as the aroma of the food reduces the essence of coffee.
What would you like to advice to new investors who want to start a café (local or international chain)? How much is the approximate investment required in addition to location/building cost?
Running a successful business is not easy. Investors require sufficient investment and commitment to establish a name for themselves in the market. InLahore, a number of cafes shut down as they were not up to the customers’ standard. It takes approximately fifteen million rupees to form a quality café excluding the location cost.
In which cities do you see the café business growing in the coming years?
Lahoreis a place where the café culture is growing. In this city only, we have opened 8 Gloria Jeans branches.Lahoreis followed byKarachiwhere the mushroom growth of cafes is also visible. The only reason why we are not expanding our chain inKarachiis due to security issues. We are also interested in opening more chains in other metropolitan cities ofPakistan.
What is the procedure, criteria and investment required to acquire a franchise of Gloria Jeans?
As far as the procedure is concerned, the interested candidate forms a proposal and writes their expression of interest. We discuss it among ourselves first and then send it to our international office. We also visit the site and location to ensure its place for business purposes. When the candidate fulfills our expectations and rules, the chain is given to the interested party.
What are your future plans?
We have targeted all the major cities ofPakistan but are also interested in opening Gloria Jeans inMultan,Sialkot and Gujranwala Cantt area. The local residents of these cities have money but lack the place to spend it. I believe in providing them with places where they can spend quality time.