Interview with Mohammad Raza Pirbhai – Chief Executive Officer, KFC Pakistan
Mohammad Raza Pirbhai is one of the most prominent business leaders of our country and has come a long way since the inception of his career.
Raza Pirbhai, having a solid track record of 19 years of involvement in the field of Operations and Human Resource Management, has led him to successfully become the Chief Executive Officer of one of the most revered and largest fast food chains, KFC Pakistan.
As a Chief Executive Officer of KFC, Raza Pirbhai has proved to be an accomplished, determined and visionary individual. Some of his primary responsibilities include enhancing, strategizing and attracting new talent for business development and leading the organization forward.
His effective planning skills and coherent implementation of large scale interventions has helped him considerably in channelizing the target set for business development and sustainability.
He entered the phase of corporate world as a management trainee at Pizza Hut and since then, has achieved numerous milestones along the way. His passion motivated him to pursue his career in various national and multi-national organizations and prove to be a valuable asset for his executive management team.
His love for hospitability, people development and operational efficiency made him pursue a career dealing with people from diverse backgrounds and fields – something he was very keen about since he stepped into the professional world.
To further enhance his skills and expertise, he was fortunate to study at one of the most prestigious universities in the world – Cornell University. Mr. Pirbhai’s hard work and pragmatic approach have led him to deliver successful and significant and positive organizational changes across multiple geographies.
As a passionate learner, energetic with optimistic approach towards life, Mr. Pirbhai progressed to be a natural forward planner who inherits the abilities to make instant decisions, critically assess performances and manage diverse teams with an eye for detail.
All through his achievements and challenges in life, he has developed a visionary approach towards life in general and KFC in particular.
His aim now is to make KFC the first choice for consumers in the sphere of QSR brands and he’s not far from achieving his dreams given his commitment towards his goals.
The brand culture is emerging on a fast track in Pakistan especially in fast food chains on the back of economic growth, which is an indicator that middle income groups and disposable income levels is on the increase in Pakistan. This trend of economic growth is a potential indicator that the international brands will be more visible in Pakistan, this observation regarding economic potential was made by Mohammad Raza Pirbhai, CEO of KFC Pakistan (Kentucky Fried Chicken) having a lion’s share in fast food market in the country.
PAGE: Pakistan has a number of international fast food chains would you like to share where kfc stands in terms of market share in the country?
RAZA: According to latest statistics, KFC stands out prominently in the market with a share of 37-40 percent in Pakistan (as cited by Dawn Pakistan). With this number we can confidently say that KFC is number one fast food chain in Pakistan and in terms of QSR far ahead of its counterparts in the country.
PAGE: The economy in Pakistan is currently confronted with a huge problem of unemployment, however, with the economic growth it is believed that the issue will be resolved amicably as the gdp growth is on top of the government’s economic revival agenda, we here acknowledge the positive role being played by kfc in creating job opportunities at the grass root level would you share the number of outlets and workforce engaged with kfc across the country?
RAZA: We take pride that KFC has provided livelihood to around 1,800 regular employees in over 21 cities across Pakistan directly and the number doubles indirectly through our vendors/suppliers in Pakistan.
You will be pleased to know that the youngsters, without any gender discrimination, at the grass root level are our first priority.
This criterion lends financial help to the students for respectably completing their education on one hand. On the other hand our focus is to impart and instill values to make them good citizens. This is being done as a mission at KFC, a small contribution in building up image of the society on the part of KFC by producing a crop of civilized young citizens.
You can take me as an example of this program. I hail from grass roots of the society and completed my education while doing my job during extra time to meet my expenses for education and because of organizational hand-holding program I grew and today, by the grace of Allah Almighty; I am the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of KFC. Such kind of opportunities and environment is being provided to the young employees associated with KFC on a regular basis.
It has been a regular practice in the world especially in the developed economies of the West and now it is being practiced in Pakistan as well. Our hand holding program help the youngsters in career building with the help of our numerous training programs that imparts management skill, and where ever they go they are treated as a complete talented and skilled resource, this can be attributed as one of our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities.
PAGE: Besides creating job opportunities for youngsters, what about impact of your business on the supply chain side, vendors that must have created economies activities in different kind of food supplies?
RAZA: Yes you are right, we are probably the only fast food entity, which has created a large number of vendors, streamlined the supply chain for quality food.
Our main focus is the localization of supplies because today Pakistan is a country where supplies of quality products are easily available.
The only thing we need to acquire quality goods is a good price. We need to change our behavior to build up image of the country by paying good price for the quality goods. It is unfortunate that sometimes people prefer to import quality things from abroad rather than paying good price to the local vendors to get even better quality products.
We at KFC are focusing on local resources for quality goods by paying them good price to ensure quality and standards.
PAGE: Since most of your products are chicken based, what measures you generally take to ensure quality of chicken being used by KFC, there is a concept that the quality of the feed used at the poultry farms is not well taken care of?
RAZA: We firmly believe in an enhanced quality assurance for all kinds of food supplies. Not only do we regularly audit the quality of supplies but even our international principals keep a strict check on quality supplies, because it is the quality which wins the confidence of the consumers and there is no question of compromising on quality of the supplies.
In case they are not up to the mark, our inspection teams disapprove without any hesitation, so quality is one of the most focused areas in KFC.
Vendors take special care about the quality feed given to the birds as their bread and butter is also linked with quality of the supplies.
KFC is probably the only franchise in Pakistan, which has developed a large number of quality suppliers and also provided them technical support to grow as well, resulting in enhanced quality assurance function.
PAGE: Do you acquire your chicken supply from general vendors of you have some exclusive arrangement for supply of chicken?
RAZA: We don’t buy from general vendors we have exclusive suppliers who pass our extensive global quality audit and meet global standards of supply. They work with us and we mutually work with vendors on quality supply development. They have to be our certified suppliers.
PAGE: So far it looks that your focus is mostly on the urban population in the country while over 60 percent of the population lives in the urban areas of the country, do you have any plan to expand your outlets to rural areas as well?
RAZA: We are the only franchise operating in over 21 cities of Pakistan, no other fast food chain is doing business on such a massive scale nationally.
Urbanization is grasping strength everywhere and with the growth of the economy comparatively smaller towns like Gujranwala, Hyderabad, Sialkot, Faisalabad etc. are now semi urbanized markets and are converting to urban zones at a considerably fast speed so that response from these centers is extremely encouraging, which indicates growing middle class population in Pakistan.
However, you cannot go into pure rural areas due to lack of understanding towards fast food.
Our stores are already in Larkana and Sukkur and with the trend of urbanization we will reach every corner where business response is encouraging.
PAGE: Do you agree that the capacity of disposable income is on the rise in the semi urbanized areas?
RAZA: Absolutely. We can say that because of prosperity in the semi urbanized areas where industrialization or rural economy is growing, the number of middle income groups are increasing rapidly, which is a good sign for economic outlook of the country.
It is reassuring to see that not only their disposable incomes are increasing but education and awareness is also on the rise, which is a positive indicator of economic growth.
PAGE: Would you like to share your observation about the customer’s preference in Pakistan, is it a quality focused or price specific?
RAZA: The customers now in Pakistan are educated and demand for an overall experience at a value. So yes they are price centric but do not want to compromise on quality too. And this is where we try and meet our customer expectations of ‘Experience & Price’.