Thursday, 8 November, 2007

Jumbo mistake?

Jumbo vada pao (a Bombay adaptation of the hamburger, which uses a potato patty) is one brand everyone admires.

While flipping channels I caught its younger owner describing his business. I remember one particular point: He said he wanted to expend overseas, but when he found that the population of mere suburb of Bombay was higher than the entire population of Indian expatriates in some gulf emirate, he decided against overseas expansion and concentrate on home.

At that time I admired his commonsense and his ability to put profits before ego.

Now, I’m not so sure.

Did he take into account the premium that gulf Indians would pay for food that reminds them of home?

Did he wonder about the chances of locals liking the food too?

Or of a rich sheik liking it so much that he’d buy a share in Jumbo and help them grow?

There are almost no Chinese in India. Yet there are hundreds of Chinese restaurants. Maybe Jumbo could have returned the favour to China.

Anyway, a single-factor decision looks very strange, especially from a successful chain. Perhaps there were more things on their minds when they decided against expanding abroad, and the owner ‘dumbed’ it down for TV (‘Dumb down’ is an idiotic thing to say, because it assumes people who cannot talk cannot think. I don’t mean that, of course. But I’ll let this stay to remind myself how ‘dumb’ I am.)

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