In an exclusive interview with Sushil Kanugolou, MD and CEO, Fipola sheds light on growing market of organised food retailing.
Kindly shed light on your business model? In addition, what was the rationale behind launching Fipola?
I was part of SR-Marine, the parent company of Fipola that has more than three decades of experience in seafood exports and cater to the demand and needs of food services segment in India. With considerable experience under my belt, I decided to venture in the meat retail segment and address the common issues faced by the customers while visiting butcher shops. I feel that the shops are marred by foul stench, unclean surroundings and revolting sight of the way meat was handled which made it unfit for human consumption and there were no checks in place to trace the source of animals. The meat sold at these shops was adulterated, consisting of anti-biotic residue, low on taste and didn’t meet the standard guidelines laid by the regulatory bodies.
Fipola came into inceptionin December 2016. It is driven by the vision to redefine meat retailing in the country by delivering the best quality meat and meat products with the highest level of customer service within a hygienic and convenient shopping environment.
We currently follow a multi-conduit retail system that include:
• Modern Meat Retail Store: Fipolaretail stores are modern, air-conditioned, hygienic and odorless creating an unmatched meat shopping experience.The stores have highly certified and trained butchers, who cut, slice and pack the meat in front of customers ensuring transparency. Coupled with well-managed backward integration, the products offered at the retail stores are free from antibiotic, hormones and pesticides. The store has two sections i.e. first section with live butchery where the customers can choose the product and Fipola staff will cut and pack it freshly. Second section is a retail side with over 150 products ready for faster pickup. This section includes pre-cut meats, marinated meat products, cold cuts, sausages, imported meat; ready to fry products/Chef’s special, non-veg pickles, spreads, glazes and eggs
• E-commerce platform and call center based doorstep delivery- Fipola ensures delivery of farm fresh, hygienically processed and tasty, quality meat right at the customers doorstep within 90 minutes once the orders are placed through the e-commerce platform or by calling at the call center number of the company
How are you sourcing your products?
We source poultry and mutton from stress-free farms in and around Guntur in Andhra Pradesh; Mysore in Karnataka; Jaipur in Rajasthan; Madurai, Coimbatore, Nellore and Dindigul in Tamil Nadu. Our parent company SR-Marine, with three of its well-established factories, is in the business of domestic, export related trade of seafood,and it helps us to cater this sector.We deliver products direct from our farms, processed and chilled but not frozen so that the customers get their meat “Fresh”.
What is pricing differential between you and others?
Our pricing is at par with the neighbourhood butcher shops.
What is the returns and home delivery challenges in this business?
We have a state-of-the art 10,000 sq. ft. Central Commissary for processing, portioning and MAP packaging for distribution of the products to the stores. We have invested around 60 million in the back-end process to meet the demands of the customers. In order to deliver fresh products, total control of temperature throughout the supply chain is required;hence, we employ temperature-controlled trucks (0-4 degree Celsius) that is used to transport the products from the commissary to the stores and depots. We focus on shortening delivery time to our customers to ensure product freshness and safety.
How do you educate customers on good quality of your product?
We follow a ‘farm to fork’ model under which stock is procured directly from the farmers. We employ numerous checks right from sourcing the meat to pre-cleaning, processing and maintaining freshness of the produce. Other quality measures include cold chain technology for freshness, stringent processes of preparation, packaging, and storage to ensure quality and hygienic products. We also have an in-house certified laboratory that guarantees chemical and pesticide-free products. The products sold by us conform to HACCP, HALAL, FSSAI and ISO certification. We maintain the highest quality and safety standards throughout the supply chain. Right from the careful selection of the suppliers, raw materials and ingredients, it continues with stringent prescribed specifications throughout the processes of preparation, packaging and storage, to ensure the safe delivery of our products to the customers.
How you are building your brand and what are the plans to seek your presence in offline market?
We currently operatethree stores across Chennai at Anna Nagar, ECR and OMR respectively. Eight depots spread across the city ensures timely delivery to customers. We are also backed by a two-hundred member strong team with industry, culinary and retail expertise and process minimum 1500-2000 orders per day with the average ticket size of 500.
Who do you see as your competition?
We feel that our main competitors are the butchers in the neighbourhood since most of the business goes to them. We differentiate ourselves from them in terms of quality and taste. Once a customer buys from us, we see them coming back again. With our multi-conduit retail system, we feel that we will be able to cater to a larger customer base.
At last, kindly highlight your expansion plans?
We are planning to launch our native app on both iOS and Google Play Store in December 2017 and open ten more stores in Chennai in the next one year. We are looking at adding three more retail stores in Chennai by the end of this year. We also plan to expand to Bengaluru and Hyderabad next year. We are immediately targeting to process 5000 orders per day and are confident of breaking even in the next three months.