A RESTAURANT tycoon is optimistic about prospects in 2011 – after completing major investment in his growing fast food empire.
Pritpal Singh now operates 24 McDonald’s restaurants across Yorkshire in a joint venture with the burger giant following the opening of a new drive-thru at the Gallagher Retail Park at Waterloo last February and a six-figure upgrade to his drive-thru outlet at Heckmondwike.
The Heckmondwike restaurant, which was opened by McDonald’s in 2000 and became part of the joint venture operation in 2006, has benefited from £340,000 of investment in new furniture, decor and extra catering equipment.
Said Pritpal: “This is a new design for a drive-thru and it has been well-received.
“It has been a difficult couple of years, but we believe it is the right thing to reinvest because that will help us come out of those difficult times stronger and more quickly.”
Other upgrades have included introducing cash less transactions and free wi-fi. “We are a 24/7 society,” said Pritpal. “A restaurant is like a third office for some people. People come here to meet over a coffee and deal with paperwork via the laptop.
During the past 12 months, Pritpal’s 24 outlets have increased employee numbers from 1,350 to 1,470. The Heckmondwike site alone has taken on an additional five members of staff since the revamp.
Pritpal’s oldest restaurant opened 25 years ago in Leeds. His others include the town centre outlet at Kirkgate in Huddersfield and ones in Dewsbury, Halifax, Leeds, Shipley, Keighley, Knaresborough and Harrogate.
The business has come a long way since those days in the 1980s, said Pritpal – from selling burgers, fries, coffee and soft drinks to offering a wider menu which also includes tea, organic milk and carrot sticks.
Offering a varied menu has helped McDonald’s thrive despite the recession. “We have a four-tier menu which provides value for money,” he said. “Sales and footfall have remained strong. In a recession, people want to indulge, so our products have been as popular as ever.”
The restaurants have also maintained a commitment to training. McDonald’s is the biggest apprenticeship provider in the country – while Pritpal’s group alone has put 40 people through the apprenticeship programme in the past 12 months.
Pritpal, who hails from the West Midlands, is one of only a handful of joint venture partner McDonald’s franchisees.
He joined McDonald’s in 1983 as a trainee manager after graduating from Sheffield University with a degree in engineering.
He rose through the ranks and in 1994 became franchisee of his first restaurant. Over the next 12 years, Pritpal was a franchisee of four further restaurants, before becoming a joint venture partner in 2006.