We are mar­ket lead­ers in find­ing the next trend-set­ting prod­uct.

Progressive Grocer (India) - - Contents - Avni Biyani, Con­cept Head, Foodhall

Avni Biyani is the driv­ing force be­hind Fu­ture Re­tail’s premium life­style food su­pers­tore Foodhall. Since com­ing on board as Con­cept Head of the premium su­pers­tore chain, Avni has been suc­cess­fully break­ing new ground in gourmet food re­tail­ing in In­dia. In a chat, Avni talks of her chain’s cus­tomer propo­si­tion and its mar­ket po­si­tion­ing and the var­i­ous ini­tia­tives that Foodhall has been tak­ing to make gourmet re­tail­ing in In­dia a truly in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ence for its cus­tomers.

Avni Biyani, Con­cept Head, Foodhall

Avni Biyani is the driv­ing force be­hind Fu­ture Re­tail’s premium life­style food su­pers­tore Foodhall. Since com­ing on board as Con­cept Head of the premium su­pers­tore chain, Avni has been suc­cess­fully break­ing new ground in gourmet food re­tail­ing in In­dia. Since 2011, when Foodhall opened its first store at Mum­bai’s Pal­la­dium mall, she has been at the fore­front of bring­ing the best of in­ter­na­tional and lo­cal in­gre­di­ents to In­dian food con­nois­seurs. In a chat with Pro­gres­sive Gro­cer, Avni talks of her chain’s cus­tomer propo­si­tion and its mar­ket po­si­tion­ing and the var­i­ous ini­tia­tives that Foodhall has been tak­ing to make gourmet re­tail­ing in In­dia a truly in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ence for its cus­tomers.

Avni Biyani’s gourmet store chain stocks ev­ery­thing one can ex­pect to find at any in­ter­na­tional food store. The of­fer­ings range from tomatillo (green toma­toes of Mex­ico) to gluten-free breads such as pizza dough, bagels, to a range of su­per­food op­tions such as Greek yo­ghurts, fat-free or­ganic milk, tofu, gourmet choco­lates, oils and vine­gars, smoked sal­mon, mock meats, spe­cialty cold cuts, teas, fresh truf­fles and var­i­ous food de­lights, in­clud­ing a va­ri­ety of In­dian foods. To add to its mojo and bur­nish the stores’ rep­u­ta­tion fur­ther as a foodie’s par­adise, Avni has led Foodhall blaze a trail of path-break­ing in­no­va­tions in re­cent years. Un­der her lead­er­ship, Foodhall has also launched a string of its own highly ac­claimed brands, which in­cludes the spices brand Arqa, The House of Tea, dry fruit brand Bus­taan, a tra­di­tional food range un­der Tra­di­tions, per­son­al­ized chef ser­vice Party Chef and gift­ing brand Blue Rib­bon. Re­cently, Avni also co-founded Whisq with dessert chef Pooja Dhin­gra, and launched a nine-piece mac­aron set un­der the brand. Edited ex­cerpts from the in­ter­view.

What is the cus­tomer propo­si­tion and mar­ket­ing po­si­tion­ing of your store?

Foodhall is tar­geted at the ur­ban trav­eler who has a global taste palate. With an ex­haus­tive range of of­fer­ings – from daily es­sen­tials to ex­otic food — Foodhall is a foodie’s par­adise. It is a one-stop shop for peo­ple look­ing for “ex­otic”, hard-to-find cook­ing in­gre­di­ents. You get ev­ery­thing from truf­fle oil and Hass av­o­cado to the equip­ment re­quired for spe­cial­ized cook­ing. Our aim is that a cus­tomer gets to dis­cover some­thing new ev­ery time they come to Foodhall. We ex­ten­sively work to get bet­ter and newer prod­ucts and en­sure that we stay in line with world food trends. This is what helps us re­tain cus­tomers and at­tract newer ones.

What is the typ­i­cal cus­tomer pro­file of shop­pers in your store?

Our shop­pers are mostly food lovers who have trav­elled a lot or those who are ex­posed to global cui­sine. We also get lots of ex­pat and HNI cus­tomers. Our

stores are lo­cated in neigh­bor­hoods where at least 30 per cent of those walk­ing in are ex­pa­tri­ates – in ar­eas such as Saket and Vas­ant Kunj in Delhi and White­field in Bengaluru. But we also get food lovers in our stores buy­ing in­gre­di­ents and want­ing to ex­pe­ri­ence new trends. We also get tourists want­ing to take back a fla­vor of In­dia.

How do you en­gage with the young generation – the mil­len­nial shop­per?

At Foodhall, we have tried to en­gage with all our cus­tomers by in­form­ing and ed­u­cat­ing them about newer things. Our vis­ual mer­chan­dis­ing team plays a vi­tal role on this front. We go the ex­tra mile by en­sur­ing that the prod­uct is dis­played beau­ti­fully with rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion guides, recipe cards and how-to man­u­als placed around it. We have bay break­ers with unique bites of in­for­ma­tion about var­i­ous prod­ucts that cus­tomers may not be fa­mil­iar with. We also have ‘ex­pe­ri­ence zones’ where we give in­for­ma­tion about the prod­uct and con­duct sam­plings. By of­fer­ing the sam­ples, we fa­mil­iar­ize the cus­tomer with the prod­uct by al­low­ing them to touch, smell, feel and taste it, thus mak­ing them more com­fort­able with the prod­uct. We also keep chang­ing the theme for the var­i­ous ex­pe­ri­ence zones on a monthly ba­sis.

Of the gourmet and in­ter­na­tional prod­uct range at your chain, which prod­ucts are record­ing max­i­mum growth?

There is a high de­mand for FNV, cheese, choco­lates and cui­sine- based prod­ucts.

In your view, which new food prod­ucts at your stores will likely gain sales trac­tions in the com­ing days?

The su­per­foods cat­e­gory will see the max­i­mum de­mand. Also, spe­cial di­etary re­quire­ment foods, which in­clude ve­gan and gluten-free prod­ucts, are the next big trend we will get to see.

What is the rate of growth of gourmet and In­ter­na­tional foods at your store?

The growth rate is quite high and we ex­pect it to re­main that way for years to come.

What is the % rev­enue con­tri­bu­tion from gourmet and In­ter­na­tional prod­ucts?

It is in the range of 60% to 70%.

Which are the new and emerg­ing cat­e­gories in your store?

We have re­cently in­tro­duced a new bak­ing brand Whisq , in as­so­ci­a­tion with Pooja Dhin­gra, founder

We go the ex­tra mile by en­sur­ing that the prod­uct is dis­played beau­ti­fully with rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion guides, recipe cards and howto man­u­als placed around it. We have bay break­ers with unique bites of in­for­ma­tion about var­i­ous prod­ucts that cus­tomers may not be fa­mil­iar with.

and ex­ec­u­tive chef of the Mum­bai-based French bak­ery chain Le15 Patis­serie. The new bak­ing brand houses all the bak­ing es­sen­tials.

What, in your opin­ion, are the big pull fac­tors for gourmet and In­ter­na­tional/ Im­ported foods in In­dia?

The grow­ing ad­vent of travel out­side the coun­try, pro­lif­er­a­tion of more food chan­nels, in­creas­ing NRI and ex­pat pop­u­la­tion, grow­ing num­bers of food ex­per­i­menters, ris­ing dis­pos­able in­come, among oth­ers, are giv­ing a big push to the gourmet and In­ter­na­tional foods cat­e­gory.

Could high prices be a ma­jor in­hibit­ing fac­tor to the wider ac­cep­tance and growth of gourmet and In­ter­na­tional foods?

We don’t nec­es­sar­ily think so. There is al­ways a mar­ket at all lev­els and cus­tomers are ready to pay the prices where there is a re­quire­ment of the range. Our ef­forts, how­ever, are to keep work­ing on the prices with our sup­pli­ers with a view to give value to our cus­tomers.

Of the to­tal shelf space at your store, what is the per­cent­age share oc­cu­pied by the gourmet and In­ter­na­tional prod­uct range?

About 60 per cent of the shelf space at our stores is oc­cu­pied by the gourmet and In­ter­na­tional range.

Who are your top sup­pli­ers for gourmet and In­ter­na­tional prod­ucts?

There are dif­fer­ent sup­pli­ers for dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories. A few ex­am­ples are Tree of Life, Dabon, For­tune, Sak­sham Im­pex, Bloom, etc.

Are there enough good and qual­ity sup­pli­ers for gourmet and In­ter­na­tional foods?

There are some very good and qual­ity sup­pli­ers but a few more will def­i­nitely ex­pand the over­all mar­ket.

Any sug­ges­tion on what sup­pli­ers of gourmet and In­ter­na­tional foods could do to ex­pand and grow the cat­e­gory fur­ther.

We feel that they can get their act to­gether faster and move into more newer cat­e­gories con­sid­er­ing the emerg­ing trends.

What are your fu­ture plans for ex­pan­sion?

Foodhall ap­peals to a very dif­fer­ent set of cus­tomers. Hence, we will be cau­tious about de­cid­ing the de­mo­graph­ics for new stores. We are look­ing for suit­able places and will not just ex­pand Foodhall rapidly.

How would you as­sess your progress and achieve­ments so far?

A new feather in our cap has been the launch of a first of its kind spe­cialty store – Lit­tle Foodhall. They say good things come in small pack­ages and Lit­tle Foodhall brings the most premium of­fer­ings of Foodhall, al­beit in a snug and el­e­gant space. Our in­ter­ac­tive store lets you ex­plore hori­zons and un­der­stand the food cul­ture from across con­ti­nents. The high­light of Lit­tle Foodhall is the quaint cafe that dishes out sump­tu­ous meals to the fam­ished cor­po­rate crowd who don’t have time for a proper lunch. Those with a dis­cern­ing palate will ap­pre­ci­ate The House of Tea for its vast col­lec­tion of finest teas while spice en­thu­si­asts will be bowled over by ARQA’S aro­matic range of hand-ground spices, salts and blends. Pick ed­i­ble gifts for your loved ones from our lux­u­ri­ous Blue Rib­bon Gift­ing sec­tion that also has a de­lec­ta­ble Mid­dle East­ern sweets col­lec­tion, which is per­fect for gift­ing or in­dulging. At Lit­tle Foodhall, you can hop aboard a culi­nary voy­age to taste the best of su­per­foods and nuts, freshly baked breads, world renowned pro­cessed food, ar­ti­san cheese, re­fresh­ing drinks, gourmet choco­lates and so much more. When you visit the store, what you wit­ness is a lit­tle world full of finest qual­ity prod­ucts, which will add a mix of beauty and nour­ish­ment to your home.

We are al­ways work­ing to­wards find­ing newer prod­ucts and we strongly feel we are mar­ket lead­ers in find­ing the next trend-set­ting prod­uct. Our range and qual­ity of prod­ucts is en­vi­able. Our own store brands like Arqa in gourmet spices and THT in premium tea have set im­pec­ca­ble bench­marks in their re­spec­tive ar­eas.

We also have ‘ex­pe­ri­ence zones’ where we give in­for­ma­tion about the prod­uct and con­duct sam­plings. By of­fer­ing the sam­ples, we fa­mil­iar­ize the cus­tomer with the prod­uct by al­low­ing them to touch, smell, feel and taste it, thus mak­ing them more com­fort­able with the prod­uct.

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