FoodService India spoke to Vikas Kumar, Executive Chef, Flury‘s, about the café, its popular offerings, the chain‘s expansion plans and the changing café culture in India.
What is your assessment of the current state of the cafe sector in India and what have been its major evolutionary leaps over the years?
The café sector in general is showing a marked up move with all market parameters suggesting that there is a considerable traction in the segment with more and more new players entering the market. Over the years, the segment has much evolved in terms of proliferation as well as availability of different formats within the sector and today there is a huge availability of coffee shops all around us.
What is the market size of the organised cafe market in India and its rate of growth? How do you see it growing in the years to come?
The organized café market is around 5,000 crore currently and is growing at a double digit growth.
What is your assessment about competition in the category with regard to what you are doing in relation to the other players in the market and their positioning, pricing, and reach according to distribution strength and retail network, etc.
We consciously position ourselves in the niche category and we are not really competing with other coffee shops where they primarily sell coffee as their core product. For us it is our famous confectionery and bakery products that is the core product and coffee and tea are value additions. We are extremely strong in the Kolkata market, which is where we have been based out of for the last 90 years, we are still not very widely present in other cities, however we are in an extremely aggressive expansion mode and will be present in more and more cities in time to come.
In the current scenario, how do you look at the development and progress of your own cafe format/ brand in India?
We are very aggressive towards our expansion plans and think that there is a huge market throughout the country, specially in the Metros and the Tier II cities for our type of product. We think this is the right time for us to expand since the customers in general are becoming more and more quality and brand conscious and the awareness is also rapidly increasing.
Which are your strongest markets at present and what has been your growth like over the past year?
We are extremely strong in the Kolkata market, which is where we have been based out of for the last 90 years, we are still not very widely present in other cities, however we are in an extremely aggressive expansion mode and will be present in more and more cities in time to come. We have grown quite well in the last year both in terms of number of outlets as well as the overall revenues.
Are you planning for expansion into new territories or would you prefer strengthening and consolidating your current base?
We are planning to expand rapidly in the Metro cities.
How large is there an opportunity for players like yourself to grow and expand the market for your products?
There is a huge opportunity for us since the customers in general are becoming more and more quality and brand conscious and the awareness is also rapidly increasing.
Would you like to cite some examples of the innovations/ new experiments that you might have introduced of late and its impact on sales and revenue?
Innovation is an ongoing process for us and being the leaders in the gourmet bakery and confectionery segment, we are always expected to bring in more and more new products into the market. To that end, we have brought in a lot of innovative products such as the single origin chocolates, the CYO (Create Your Own) cake range and various other products.
Which are your best-selling offerings and flavours?
Our best selling products are our iconic Rum Balls and Chicken Patties.
What are you doing to drive consumption of your products and enhance your brand identity? What is your marketing and sales strategy and which are the tools you are using to promote the brand?
We are lucky in that the brand already enjoys an excellent customer connect and recall. We have also been able to create great brand awareness and to that end we do not really need to aggressively market ourselves. At the same time however, we do employ certain tools such as the social media etc. to reach out to more and more patrons, especially the young ones.
How are you bringing technology to bear on your logistics, supply chain and innovation?
We are among the only handful of establishments that are in the gourmet, 100 percent handcrafted segment where each one of our thousands of truffles is rolled, dipped and feathered by hand, all our breads are hand moulded and we take pride in the fact that
we are an artisan bakery and confectionery in the true sense. However, we do use technology to reach out to more and more guests as well as use latest technology towards supply chain and logistics.
In your opinion, what are the challenges and the opportunities facing the cafe format in India?
I have already discussed the opportunities above, there are of course various challenges such as low APCs when compared to say, a bar or a restaurant, the low shelf life of the products as well as problems of availability and consistency of certain raw materials.
Please describe your brand’s key achievements so far and what do you attribute them to? Also, what all have been the learnings in this business so far?
The biggest achievement of our brand is that we have been able to successfully create a niche in the segment and have been a well loved brand for almost 9 decades now. We have been able to grow healthily and been able to create continuous benchmarks in the gourmet bakery and confectionery segment. The most important learning is that if you stay true to your brand essence, create a unique core competency and focus sharply on quality and consistency, the brand will be successful.