French bakery and patisserie chain, L’Opéra, is planning to expand its footprint across India by taking its total store count to 65.
In an exclusive interview with Indiaretailing, Founder, L’Opéra, Kazem Samandari said, “We are in the advanced stages of our current round of fund-raising. We are planning to raise between Rs 45 -50 crore, mostly to be utilised for investments in the infrastructure necessary for our planned pan-India expansion in addition to marketing costs to establish the brand presence in new geographies and markets. Within the next five years, we plan to operate 5 productions centres and some 65 outlets in six cities.”
The company, which presently has 14 outlets in Delhi NCR, will be entering Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and Chennai markets, besides opening two new stores in Delhi.
Samandari said that the brand has appointed Langham Capital to coordinate our fund-raising efforts. However, L’Opéra is still looking for potential investors, to whom the brand will be offering minority equity participation.
“We shall opt for such investors who bring more than mere financial resources to L’Opéra. We will be looking for expertise in such areas as brand development, real-estate, marketing, corporate governance, management, F&B and geographic presence. More than anything else, though, we will be looking for individuals and organisations who share our passion.”
Is Indian Market Potential Enough?
Although there are many bakeries in the country, the reality is different from what one would expect in France. The concept of bread, for example, is very different. But a spike in interest for French breads in the past years as well as new types of pastries has been observed, as the market is diversifying, and palates are becoming more discerning.
According to Samandari, “Despite the great entrepreneurial opportunities India provides, running any kind of business is a challenge. We, as many other industries have to ensure a reliable supply of basic utilities such as water and electricity by making our arrangements such as water purification and treatments units, considerable power backup capacity, etc.
He further added, “However, there are also some challenges specific to the bakery industry, such as the extreme weather; our products, especially our pastries, are quite sensitive to heat and humidity, so transporting them across Delhi NCR, a vast urban agglomeration of 20 million, can be challenging. Sourcing the raw materials is another challenge, especially for a French bakery, which is why we need to procure many of them from abroad. Finally, given the high standard of freshness we must follow, the demand predictability of customers can be an issue, so it is sometimes difficult to know how much of a certain product to stock.”
Operating/ Business Model
The company that is expecting a revenue of Rs 16 – Rs 18 crore this fiscal operates on direct operating model keeping in mind the nature of business and products and its vision. At present, the brand has no plans to opt for franchise model.
Samandari revealed, “We have a long-term development plan and our vision is set out to span over generations. We are prepared to sacrifice a quick return on our investments in order to ensure the long-term integrity of the brand and secure its reputation. In the same line of thought, we rarely resort to paid advertisements and instead encourage the word of mouth and fact-based and personal communication. We want our products, the atmosphere of our outlets and the quality of our service to speak for themselves. This also entails a constant quest for perfection, excellence and innovation.”
He further added, “All of our points of sale are company owned, with one exception. We shall be opening, early January an outlet in Dehradun which will be a quasi-franchise arrangement. Moving forward we do not have specific plans for franchising, but are open to the idea should the opportunity arise within the appropriate parameters of quality and excellence.”
Innovation Is The Key To Success
The Delhi-based bakery chain, whose all the stores have reached the break-even point with the exception of one, has taken the level of breads and desserts a notch higher in India by introducing a range of innovative products.
“Well, I would say that the concept of an authentic French bakery itself is innovative in Delhi, but we do strive to be avant-garde while maintaining our adherence to norms of French culinary culture. Our Blueberry Cheesecake, with Blueberry mousse instead of jam, therefore rendering it more French, is a good example of this, as are our French renditions of Christmas desserts such as the American Red Velvet or German Black Forest pastries,” concluded Samnadari.