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07/04/03 . n/a . BBC . India  
McDonald's plans Indian expansion  
McDonald's plans to double its outlets in India over the next three years, as the global fast food giant prepares to close outlets in the US, Europe and elsewhere.  

About 50 restaurants will be added to the 47 already in the India according to Vikram Bakshi, managing director of Connaught Plaza Restaurants, which holds the franchise for New Delhi and the north of the country.

"McDonald's considers China and India to be vital for expansion and will continue to invest more and more in both these countries," Mr Bakshi told Bloomberg News.

He said the expansion is expected to cost between 10bn and 13bn rupees (136-176m; $211-275m).

Western India will get fifteen new outlets over the next 12 months at a cost of 600m rupees, according to Amit Jatia, managing director of regional franchise holder Hardcastle restaurants.

Indian growth

McDonald's has invested about 7bn rupees in India since it entered the market in 1996 and reported growth of about 40%.

India has a population of over 1 billion and an emerging and affluent middle class.

The food chain has tailored a number of its products to the Indian market, including the Paneer Salsa Wrap, McCurry Pan, McAloo Tikki and the mutton speciality for a country which does not eat beef, the Chicken Maharaja Mac.

"In the next two years, we should finally have a menu that is entirely relevant to the Indian household," Mr Bakshi said.

Anti-US impact

McDonald's said it had not been affected by anti-war protests in India which have targeted other US firms like Coca Cola, Pepsi and Nike.

"We have not seen any impact of the US war on McDonald's Indian operation," said Mr Jatia told AFP.

"It is probably because the operations are seen as local business as more than 90% of the ingredients are sourced from local farmers and more than 2,500 people employed at the outlets across India," he said.

Future plans

McDonald's reported its first loss in the last quarter of 2002, since going public in 1965.

Later on Monday, the global parent of McDonald's is expected to announce it will reduce its US refurbishment plans and other cost cutting measures.

McDonald's has more than 30,000 outlets in 10 countries, but has cut openings by 40% in 2003 to 450 new restaurants.

Shares are down about 11% this year after falling to a 10-year low of $12.38 on 12 March.

related links  
- An explosion injured at least 17 people Friday at a Bombay plaza that McDonald's shares with another food outlet, and police said faulty air-conditioning was probably to blame.
- The global dominance of McDonald's took a knock yesterday when the fast food giant issued a profits warning and announced plans to shut restaurants in 10 countries.
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