New Delhi, Jan 16 (PTI) Coffee chain Barista is in advanced talks with two food delivery platforms, including Swiggy, to serve the online food market, a top company official said.

Barista would sell its food items through the food delivery platforms which would be cooked at its facility and distributed by the online aggregators.

“We are in advanced stage of talks with Swiggy and one more player for dark kitchens and hopefully, we would have announcements soon,” Barista Chief Executive Officer Puneet Gulati told PTI.

In October 2018, Barista’s rival Cafe Coffee Day had made an announcement to join hands with Uber Eats to launch a virtual restaurant network.

Under dark kitchen, companies share their resources and increase their capacity to serve the food delivery market.

Barista would add around 40 more stores in the next three months taking its count to 250 by the end of this financial year, said Gulati.

The company, which is eyeing a network of around 500 stores in the next two-three years, would expand in tier-II and III cities.

The coffee chain is looking to enter South Asian markets and the UAE in the Middle East, where the Indian diaspora has a larger presence. It already has stores in countries such as Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Nepal and Maldives.

“Currently, we are having around 210 stores and by the end of March, we are hoping to have around 250 stores. These would be a mix of company-owned stores and franchise stores,” said Gulati.

“Currently, we have operations in 47 towns in India. It was just 35 towns one-and-a half-year back,” he said. The expansion is especially coming from tier-II and III cities, he added.

“We are quite excited as our brand has a huge halo emitting from metro towns and it is very well accepted,” he said commenting about Barista’s growth prospects in smaller towns.

The company is also having a different pricing strategy to tap the aspirational customers from tier-II and III cities, he added.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.