An assortment of Dosas, Mini Idlis, Vada, Sambar, and Chutney. waiting to be devoured. Image Credit: Facebook
Chennai: There is little chance that you could correctly guess the name of this 34 year old idli-sambar chain that has hit it big in the food business.
People unaware of the food scenario from the city may incorrectly guess Saravana Bhavana, a name which has remained synonymous with vegetarian food for quite a few years now.
But Sangeetha's is an emerging story of a popular vegetarian joint that has joined an elusive list of crorepati companies. In fact, revenues for the year stood at Rs 300 crores.
To offer you a comparison, Saravana Bhavan set up in 1981, had reported turnover of Rs 300 crores from nearly 34 outlets in South India in 2013.
A 2005 file photo of P Rajagopal, Sangeetha Restaurant's founder, distributing free ladoos during a 25th Anniversary celebrations.
Sangeetha is present in nearly 27 locations in the city itself, across places such as Mylapore, RA Puram, Teynampet, Perambur, Egmore, Adyar, T Nagar, Navallur, Nungambakkam etc.
The Sangeetha brand name is quite popular for its steamy idlis and authentic Tamils meal has crossed another milestone - Rs 300 crores in revenues. Back in 2010 when the company had crossed Rs 30 crores in turnover, one of its founders, had humbly said that the business has risen from a time when the turnover used to be Rs 4000 per day.
The brand has moved from Idli-sambar to include North Indian and Chinese cuisines in its menu. And if you happen to visit the store, do try out the chaat-thaali.
Sangeetha's inspiring story started with P Suresh starting a first food unit in Mylapore on July 7, 1985. Suresh, who was pursuing for his pre-university exams, was driven by the ambitions of his father Padmanabh Pothi, who had left Udipi as a 12 year old boy in search of a job.
Younger brother P Rajagopal, who had been an aspiring CA student, soon joined the business in the 90s, and since then the brand has never looked back.
In an interaction with The New Indian Express, Rajagopal said that one of the turnarounds in fortune was the performance of the Mylapore branch that the brothers had opened during 1990s. Well-wishers had advised against opening a branch in Mylapore since it was largely brahmin occupied and a conservative locality. But the brothers surprised most of their well-wishers and critics by turning the business profitable within three months.
The brothers have so far added 54 outlets in over three decades. Of these, 27, like we mentioned earlier, according to Zomato, are located in Chennai, while the others are operated on a franchise model across major cities in the country and also overseas locations. The international stores are located in Dubai, Sharjah, London, Paris, Kuala Lumpur, California, and Hong Kong.
In an interaction with ToI, Rajagopal says that the new milestone has been achieved without much management structure in place, but he was hopeful of a 20% growth driven by current operations.
With the rise in business, the brand is looking at including new franchisees and onboarding newer systems for streamlining its operations. A newer system is expected to help synergise operations in the areas of procurement, HR management, besides the brand is also reworking towards a uniform code which is expected to help vendors, franchisors, and the brand on a whole.
In the age of the online food ordering finding novel business ideas has been quite a challenge. But Sangeetha was among the early pioneers to offer it's party hall for a nominal fee during the early 90s when competition was rising. Besides coming up with unique concepts, the brothers also focused on managing staff attrition. With nearly 4000 employees, the brothers realised that managing staff demand was integral to their business. Welfare schemes for employees, such as rent allowances, insurance cover, and educational allowance for kids of employees who have served for over five years has helped retain staff.
With the competition rising, and a need for more power to pursue it's ambitions, the brothers have started a quest for a CEO, a professional, who could supervise the operations at the overseas units.