Mouthwatering Growth
    Category: Companies & People By : Yessar Rosendar Read : 1234 Date : Monday, May 09, 2016 - 05:05:06

    Courtesy of Outback Steakhouse

    Like a juicy steak sizzling on a grill, Indonesia’s large population and its appetite for Western food has fueled Outback Steakhouse’s growth, a Australian-inspired steakhouse restaurant that has just opened its fourth restaurant in Jakarta last year. In the last two years, it has doubled its restaurants to four outlets, a good dose of expansion since opening its first outlet in 2002.

    “Indonesia is a good market as we have been successful and busy since the first year, and now we understand more about the business and want to expand more,” says Prasoon Mukherjee, chairman of the Singapore based Universal Success Enterprises, the franchise holder of the Outback Steakhouse chain in Southeast Asia (Prasoon is originally from India). Currently the group manages 14 outlets in Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia, and employs around 700 across the region.

    Indonesia is a big part of the growth of the chain in Southeast Asia where the chain serves up to 1.6 million customers per year. “We want to have a total of 30 restaurants in the next five years, with the biggest growth in Indonesia and Philippines,” says Prasoon. “We have double digit growth in customer and profit every year.” Indonesia accounts for one third of the company’s growth now as the chain serves around 450,000 customers per year with an average spending of Rp 250,000 per customer. Using these figures, Forbes Indonesia estimates that Outback Steakhouse in Indonesia generated annual revenue of at least Rp 112.5 billion. The outlets of the chain are situated in prime areas in Jakarta such as Sudirman, Pondok Indah, Kuningan, and the growing dining area in Puri, West Jakarta.

    Prasoon didn’t know anything about the chain until one of his colleagues suggested he try the restaurant on one of his trips to Los Angeles. The restaurant sparked his curiosity, as he couldn’t get a seat in his first two visits during dinnertime. On his third try, he went early to a restaurant in another location and finally got in. “On my first two visits there was a one-hour waiting time, so it became a challenge. I said to myself I have to try it, so I came at 4 pm and I really liked the food,” Prasoon says. The next day he approached Outback management’s for a franchise for Southeast Asia. Despite the Australian-sounding name, the chain was created in the U.S. and is headquartered in Tampa, Florida (the chain does try to serve Australian beer at many outlets). Although it took two years, he finally secured the rights.

    Going forward, two of the biggest challenges, he says, are finding new employees and getting the right locations. “We don’t have problem for funding, now the concern is location. We have been looking for a good location in Bali for four years now,” Prasoon says. According to him, to build one restaurant in countries such as Indonesia needs an investment of up to $1.2 million while more mature markets such as Singapore need up to $2.5 million.