Biryani buys Blue Foods chain

In a complicated and layered deal, retail chain magnate Kishore Biyani now owns the rights to all the existing Cream Centre and Copper Chimney restaurants in Mumbai city, barring the original ones at Chowpatty and Worli.

The private equity arm of Future Group — Indivision India Partners — has now become a senior partner in the food and beverages (F&B) company, Blue Foods, which operates a chain of restaurants. With an investment of Rs 150 crore, the “structured transaction” — which gives the Future Group a stake of over 50% in Blue Foods — is expected to help grow the business as well as bring in more brands.

Blue Foods owns restaurant brands Cream Centre, Copper Chimney, Bombay Blue, Noodle Bar, Gelato Italiano, Spaghetti Kitchen and a franchisee agreement with California-based coffee chain, Coffee Beans & Tea Leaf. Set up as a chain of multi-cuisine lifestyle restaurants around 2003, Blue Foods had two promoters — Sunil Kapoor of Copper Chimney fame and Sanjeev Chona of Cream Centre fame in Mumbai. The duo had a strategic alliance with the promoters of Royal Sporting House of Singapore.

Grappling with high operational costs, Future group’s Pantaloon retail was brought into the picture three years ago, in a 50:50 joint venture (JV) with Blue Foods. The JV was called Pan Foods Solutions. The new deal — with the entry of Indivision — has resulted in the merger of Pan Foods with Blue Foods.

Under the new deal, Copper Chimney at Worli in Central Mumbai will continue to belong to Sunil Kapoor, while Cream Centre at Mumbai’s famed Chowpatty will remain in the personal ownership of Sanjeev Chona. But, Indivision now owns the licence to two other Cream Centre’s in the city and is also the licensee of the Copper Chimney brand for other locations across the metropolis, except the one at Worli, sources said.

When contacted, Kishore Biyani refused to comment on the deal, terming it a “highly financial-oriented transaction.” Sunil Kapoor and Sanjeev Chona could not be reached for comment.

While the Future group brought to the table real estate and property, the other partners brought in their speciality in the food business. As a result of the JV, more formats like food courts, called ‘Spoon,’ were set up.
Sources indicated that a few months ago, Sunil Kapoor had decided to buy out Sanjeev Chona’s stake in Blue Foods. It was then that the Future Group also decided to hike its stake.