Vikram Bakshi, who ended his two and a half decade long relationship with McDonalds last week, has left behind a huge legacy of the Indianisation of the American burger chain.
The man who opened the world’s beefless outlet in Delhi in 1996, had perfected the art of “cultural correctness.” With innovations like the McAloo Tikki burger, made from potatoes and peas, to no-pork menus, McDonald’s is a world brand which has been made to fit into India.
The nod to cultural sensibilities has ensured wide patronage. Connaught Plaza Restaurants Limited (CPRL, which was, until last week, a 50:50 joint venture (JV) between Bakshi and McDonald’s India Private, now operates 169 outlets in the north and east of the country. (In the west and south, McDonald’s has a separate partnership with the Amit Jatia-led Hardcastle Restaurants.)
Yet, internal discord within the partnership, and an ensuing legal battle, had capped further growth. Now, the warring partners have arrived at an out of court settlement. Under the deal, the burger chain has bought out the stake of Bakshi and his wife from CPRL, for an undisclosed amount. McDonald’s India, along with its affiliate McDonald’s Global Markets, now wholly-own CPRL.
“With the transfer of ownership and management…Mr. and Mrs. Bakshi end their association with CPRL and McDonald’s. We acknowledge the significant work and contribution of Mr. Bakshi in establishing McDonald’s restaurants in north and east India,” the company said.
The deal marks a new chapter for the burger behemoth in India, as it looks to put Bakshi’s legacy behind it.
The fallout began in the year McDonald’s tried to take over Bakshi’s stake for $5 million which translates to Rs35 crore — the amount that he had invested in the Joint Venture. The Indian entrepreneur then did not let them have it easy as according to him, his share was more than that. McDonald’s asked him to do on the basis that Bakshi was mismanaging the company funds and was paying more attention to his real estate businesses, neglecting the joint venture.
Despite no resolution in sight, the delicate partnership continued. But matters took an ugly turn in 2013 when McDonald’s removed him as MD of the Company Law Board (now the National Company Law Tribunal), accusing McDonald’s India of mismanagement and oppression. NCLT reinstated Bakshi as managing director in July 2017.
Despite the public spat, Bakshi continued to expand the business. CPRL declared its first profit of Rs. 9.32 crore in 2010. And by the end of 2017, it had 169 outlets.