Is it vital to have a background in the F&B business to have your cake and eat it too? Gopi Kumar does not think so. When he started London Bakery in 2014 with Rajmohan Mohan and Lava Karthik in Chennai, many confectionary outlets dotted the city’s landscape – with few prominent names too. However, the trio persevered as they believed there was scope for premium bakery products. Today, the company’s 22 outlets underline the fact their belief was not misplaced.
Explaining why they chose London Bakery as their label, Kumar said, “I wanted a name that had easy recall. We often vouch for global products, considering them to have premium standards. Hence, an international name with products that are manufactured indigenously would set a benchmark in terms of quality and taste.”
When the first London Bakery outlet was introduced, the team decided to try the oldest marketing strategy to promote the brand – word of mouth. And as clichéd as it might sound, it worked. Today, the brand has a stronghold in Chennai with over 22 outlets. Close to 10,000 customers visit these stores on an average every week, and the company posted a turnover of INR 2 crore recently.
As business picked up, London Bakery opted for the franchise model to expand its operations. Even whilst working with its franchise partners, it emphasizes on the three pillars – quality, trust and customer satisfaction – which it believes are the bedrock of its success.
To adhere to these mainstays, London Bakery restricts its readymade orders to a bare minimum. Most of its products are pre-booked and production is personalized to suit the customer’s need. At the factory, extra attention is given to customizing the orders depending on any dietary specifications given by customers – like no sugar or additional flavors. Explaining how London Bakery applies this practice in principle, Gopi said, “We replace these components with natural ingredients, and premium raw materials that do not affect the flavor or are harmful.”
The exclusion of preservatives affects the shelf life of baked and confectionery products, by reducing it by a couple of days. However, the founders are proud that their products don’t have an adverse effect on their consumer’s health.
Kumar jokingly narrated an incident where a customer questioned him over the colour of bread as it was different from that available in the market. He had to educate the entire process to the buyer and tell her that the colour difference was due to the absence of preservatives. Since then, she has become a regular customer.
HIGH ON TRANSPARENCY
London Bakery wants to follow the practice of complete transparency in all its dealings, especially its manufacturing process. Customers are welcome to visit the facility to know about the preparation process involved, equipment used or to get a tour of the place. Enthusiastic visitors sometimes join the team in baking a cake. “Nothing makes an occasion more special than a personal touch, when customers visit us and bake a cake for their loved ones along with our staff,” Kumar added.
In the omnichannel era, London Bakery provides shoppers with the option to place an order online, though the founders maintain that offline shopping remains the best bet currently. “At the end of the day food purchase is a matter of taste and trust that can be achieved only when one personally visits a store and checks out the products,” Gopi explained.
Since offline is a major thrust area for London Bakery, the company follows a flat hierarchy where every customer is seen as a valuable asset. Each buyer call or query is answered unfailingly and post-delivery feedback is taken diligently. This helps in building a rapport with the customer and makes them feel closer to the brand.
This customer-centric approach has helped London Bakery become a brand that customers seek out. Like Kumar pointed out, baking is not a complicated business, but keeping a customer happy definitely is. And that is what London Bakery would like to keep focusing on.
– Divya Narayanan