Please give a brief background of Brigade Hospitality Services Limited (BHSL).
BHSL is a wholly owned subsidiary of Brigade Group, and was established in June 2004 to manage the group’s rapidly growing hospitality-related projects. Its range of operations encompass serviced residences, premium membership clubs, convention centres, a catering and event management wing, hotels and a high-end sky lounge. It has recently launched an industrial catering, banquets and event coordination arm under Celebrations Catering and Events LLP. The hospitality division of Brigade Group has been witnessing a 52 percent CAGR in the past 10 years.
What are the key challenges in the various verticals?
Each business is very different, and there are intricacies within each. For instance, we have 4 clubs spread across different parts of the city. The members in each of the clubs vary in their spending patterns and preferences for events within each of the clubs. So we cannot have a “one-size-fits-all” strategy for marketing, promotions or events calendar. The convention centre in south Bangalore is popular for weddings and theatre performances, whereas the one in Whitefield is more popular with the corporate crowd.
Please tell us about your most recent ventures. We launched Celebrations Catering and Events about a year ago. We were able to capitalise on our existing leadership team and infrastructure to make a strong beginning in the industrial catering and event management space. In just one year we started catering in the cafeterias of half a dozen multi-national corporations and managed more than 70 odd events – be it social functions or corporate get-togethers. Birthdays and weddings have become our speciality.
The USP of this entity is that it provides the customer with a one-stop-shop solution for all F&B and events related needs. From providing the design and décor for an event to the venue and catering, we have the product and services to address customer needs at various price points. The team comprises of professionals with decades of experience in the hospitality industry, led by Gurmeet Singh who has been with Brigade Hospitality for close to a decade and is now responsible for spearheading Celebrations.
Please talk about The Baking Company (TBC).
TBC is a new initiative of BHSL. It has brought forth a myriad range of fresh baked goods. Currently, TBC operates out of The Woodrose Club in JP Nagar, Galaxy Club in Malleswaram and the Regent Club in Whitefield, and has counters in the World Trade Centre cafeteria and the Brigade Summit cafeteria.
The USP of TBC would be its freshly baked products that are made without using any preservatives. TBC rolls out a range breads, pastries, cookies, sandwiches, savouries and tarts, and is known for its healthy muffins and made-to-order bakes. TBC customises its goodies for themed baby showers and birthday parties.
We believe that innovation and customization is the key to keep the customer happy. With the same school of thought, our units churn out newer products like white chocolate brownies, called Blondies and healthy cookies made from sorghum and millet.
What led you to enter the bakery segment?
We got into the space because it was a natural extension of our catering business. Baking also presented an exciting opportunity to be more experimental with food, and provide customised options to our customers. We wanted to create a bakery brand with a difference. We not only look to provide relatively healthy baked goods, but also products that are eggless and gluten-free.
The Baked Goods Industry is slated to grow at around 10 -12 percent in the coming years, according to Euromonitor International. This is being fuelled by rapid expansion of modern retail outlets across the country, increasing disposable income levels of consumers, rapid urbanisation, need for convenience, and lack of time in urban households.
Please tell us about the upcoming food service outlets in 8 hotels under development across south of India.
All our hotels will be managed by internal hotel operators. The F&B requirements will be determined by the operators once a market study has been conducted and the nature of the restaurants and number of outlets have been determined. Right now, it is too early to give this information as the hotels are still under development.
What key learnings in the Indian hospitality sector would you like to share?
The biggest learning has been that you are only as good as the people you have. Invest in your people and they will work wonders for you. The challenge then is in finding the right talent to help you run the business. Training facilities need to improve for the hospitality sector so that newcomers can join.
The second biggest learning is that you have to be adaptable to customer needs and flexible when it comes to sales. Customization and personalisation is the name of the game. Hence, knowing your customer preferences is of vital importance.
We currently have on-the-job-training, and are planning to invest in vocational training centres, but these are yet to be developed. But I wish rules and regulations to run the business were simpler. It is currently a complex business and legal environment we work in.