Rita’s Italian Ice has awarded a master licensee agreement to a New Delhi-based multiconcept franchisee to open 50 Rita’s units in India over the next several years.
South Asian Food & Hospitality Pvt. Ltd., which also franchises Quiznos Subs, an Australian concept called Muffin Break, and domestic brands like Wagh Bakri Tea Company, will open its first Rita’s Italian Ice in New Delhi in the fourth quarter.
“India’s booming economy and growing market make the country an excellent strategic fit as Rita’s furthers its global reach,” said Jonathan Fornaci, Rita’s chief executive. “We are thrilled to partner with South Asian Food & Hospitality, who has more than a decade of hospitality and management experience in India, and a successful, well-established infrastructure.”
The frozen-treat chain also recently struck separate master licensee agreements for China and the Caribbean.
India has held particular appeal for several restaurant companies looking to enter emerging markets like Brazil, Russia, India and China, commonly referred to as the BRIC nations.
Most recently, frozen-yogurt chain Pinkberry said it would open in Mumbai, India, this year in a franchise agreement with JSM Corp Pvt. Ltd., which also operates California Pizza Kitchen, Trader Vic’s and Hard Rock Café locations in India.
Earlier this year, Starbucks Coffee — whose chief executive Howard Schultz is a member of Pinkberry’s board — announced a partnership with India’s Tata Coffee Limited that would allow for expansion in that country.
Also late last year, Yum! Brands Inc. spun off its 175 Pizza Hut units and 100 KFC locations in India to form a separate operating division, Yum! Restaurants India, signaling the market’s potential to reach the strength of Yum’s other powerhouse international division, Yum! Restaurants China.
Trevose, Pa.-based Rita’s Italian Ice has more than 550 units in 18 U.S. states.