Gautam Dutta, CEO, PVR CinemasAfter having seen zero revenue for close to five months, PVR Cinemas recently opened its doors to the public again. On its road to recovery, the company will launch its own microwave popcorn brand ‘Popmagic’, marking its foray into the F&B business. This is only the first of the many other products that are expected to launch in this segment, the company tells Forbes India. Gautam Dutta, CEO, PVR Cinemas said, "We are still testing out the other products till we are happy with them. We’ll not rush." The popcorn will be rolled out in North and South India first, and within 15 days, it will be available in the West and other parts of the country. Popmagic, however, will only be sold on e-commerce platforms like Amazon, Swiggy, Zomato and at PVR Cinemas. Dutta speaks to Forbes India about the microwave popcorn market, and his strategies to survive alongside a strong market leader. Edited excerpts: Q. How did the plan to move into the product category of microwave popcorn come about? We did F&B sales of about Rs 1,100 crore last year, of which 35 percent comes from the sale of popcorn. Clearly, popcorn is our hero product since we sold Rs 350 crore worth of it at our cinemas. During the lockdown, we wanted to start a few initiatives that could go beyond the premises of our cinemas, and business ideas that could go beyond the brick-and-mortar. To take the legacy of the PVR popcorn ahead seemed like a natural extension, and we decided to take the microwave popcorn route. That’s how "Popmagic" came into being. Q. What does the market for microwave popcorn look like currently? The popcorn market in India beyond cinemas is fairly nascent—as per our estimates, below Rs 50 crore. We felt that this market can easily be 10x bigger in the next two to three years. Within the microwave popcorn market, Act II is the largest player. We feel our product gives much better quality as our corns are imported. We have a winner product, a great brand to back it, and we're entering the market at just the right time when it is not over-flooded. Over the years, we are hoping to grow this into a big piece for PVR. Q. Given that Act II is the largest player in the market, what are your strategies to survive in the long run? The product itself—apart from good quality, we have added seasoning to the popcorn to add another USP. Chef Sarah Todd helped us curate the flavours and the seasoning for Popmagic. It will be available in four different flavours. While the product is priced at a 10-12% premium over Act II, we still believe the pricing is pretty competitive, given the quality we are offering. We believe we will be able to move the market in the right direction. As per our prediction, we should be able to garner some very encouraging numbers within the next few months.
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