In 2011, Avni Biyani, the younger daughter of Future Group founder Kishore Biyani, conceptualised and incorporated Foodhall, which has since grown into one of India’s foremost lifestyle food retail destinations.
The idea behind starting Foodhall was to expose modern Indian customers to the finer nuances of food. The format targets well-travelled urban Indian consumers who love to experiment with global cuisines and promises to expose customers to the next level of food retailing. Within a short span of time, the concept store launched at Palladium, Mumbai garnered immense popularity with a discerning customer base and now has its presence across the high-end regions of Delhi, Bangalore and Pune.
Foodhall outlets offer an assortment of fresh and packaged foods, covering international and pan-Indian cuisine. From avocados from South America and over 60 varieties of cheese to freshly made authentic breads by in-house chefs, from well stocked fresh produce, dairy and packaged foods to an extensive frozen section and a good delicatessen selling cheese and poultry, the store is a delight for the food savant. The trend currently is towards health-based foods and convenience, ready-to-cook foods as seen in the rising demand for gluten-free, dairy-free, kosher and sugar-free products, all of which are on offer in the format.
Biyani is a graduate of New York University’s College of Art & Science and has specialised in sociology and politics. Apart from her interest in liberal arts and humanities, she is a connoisseur of food and global cuisine. She also enjoys travelling and exploring new places and has travelled extensively across the world, which translated into her vision for Foodhall.
“A lot of our customers are food lovers who are well travelled and share a preference for global cuisine. So we organise food festivals every month at our stores so that customers can not only sample different kinds of cusisines but also learn to experiment with recipes and learn to cook them,” she says, elaborating on Foodhall’s marketing strategy.
What does she think of the growing influence of online retail on the imported/ gourmet foods category in India? Does that impact brick-and-mortar formats such as Foodhall?
“There is plenty of demand and space to grow for different kinds of formats and both brick-and-mortar outlets and e-commerce models have room to flourish and expand. It’s not actually about physical or online commerce but assisted commerce and personalised products and services, which is the direction that food retail is moving towards,” she responds.
Assortment innovation and freshness are the key drivers to succeed in this specialist food retail category, Biyani says. “To be successful in this kind of format, your offerings have to keep evolving, you have to be ahead of the curve and be a trend setter.”