NEW DELHI: India is poised to become the second largest international market outside the US for Domino's, with the chief executive attributing the pizza chain's success to a policy of localisation.

J Patrick Doyle, president & CEO, told the Economic Times that localisation was two-pronged in that pizza toppings were adapted to suit regional tastes while franchisees were also free to make their own choices in these matters.

In India, 50% of the offerings at Domino's stores are localised. "Local partners can take decisions to localise on their own and need not call our headquarters at Ann Arbor, Michigan, to find out whether or not we're okay with their interpretation of the local taste," he said.

"If the quality is there and we know the supplier, they can move very quickly," he added.

Ultimately, Doyle indicated, relationships mattered more than structure and processes. "If there's trust, nobody is checking the rule book every time to see if they're doing the right thing," he said.

He was also enthusiastic about the international possibilities offered by localisation. "There are pizzas from India that are now being sold in the UK, like paneer pizza, chicken tikka masala pizza and kheema do pyaza pizza," he observed.

When rival fast-food franchise Burger King announced plans to enter the Indian market recently the need for a menu that suited the local audience was uppermost in its thoughts.

"We are going to give the Indian consumer choices and flavours that they will like and consume," Sameer Sain of Everstone Capital, Burger King's joint venture partner, told the Financial Times.

Sain added that he was not worried about the competition, saying that all the large well-known global brands could "grow by growing the market" which was still a long way from saturation.

India currently has 650 Domino's stores and Doyle expected it would overtake the UK's 750 "in the next few years". A long-term partnership with Jubilant FoodWorks, the master franchisee for the brand in India, has helped it expand across the country, and Doyle said there were no plans to change that approach.

"The business has been this successful because of the local leadership," he explained. "If we become directly involved, I don't think we'll get the same pace of growth."

Data sourced from Economic Times, Financial Times; additional content by Warc staff