Gulabs products have been in existence for over 3+ years and its forte being handcrafted food products like khakhras, masalas, pickles, sharbats and ready-to-cook mixes. The brand claims that all recipes are made from age old recipes (100 years old) passed on from generations. Recently, the company has partnered with Reliance for JioMart, the new online grocery delivery service as the part of their distribution strategy. This makes Gulabs one of the initial merchants to tie up with JioMart. In an exclusive conversation Naveen Bhandari, MD, Gulabs talks about more on same also major expansion plans.
What inspires you to launch Gulabs? What were your initial challenges and how did overcome those?
Gulabs was launched as a tribute to Ms. Gulab Bhandari - the chief chef. She’s a 70 year old aunty who used to make these delicacies by herself single handedly earlier at home and cater to friends and family's requirements received via word of mouth.
Initial challenges included positioning these as gourmet / premium products, introducing and establishing the products under a brand name - for people to connect with, reaching out to the traders as well as end consumers, making them aware of the brand and its products and about its USPs.
However, many or most of the challenges are more or less overcome via multiple methods like sampling, promotions, exhibitions, etc.
How do you see the consumer behaviour has evolved towards health drinks?
People are becoming health conscious; however, health beverages hasn’t seen a boom as yet. It’s still in its nascent stage.
Factors giving or which will eventually give rise to a requirement -
- health conscious consumers
- growing obesity & illness / diabetes etc
- trends being observed in other countries
Beverages in India at present mostly comprises of alcoholic drinks, juices, aerated drinks, tea and coffee.
Tea and coffee have comparatively gone ahead in terms of seeing health related flavours / products. (flavoured options such as green tea, green coffee).
Syrups or Sharbats in particular may not necessarily see much of a change, at least not in terms of the base - which is simple syrup (i.e. sugar + water) - that is the core of the syrup. Rest are flavours which are added to give it different tastes. Most of the brands incorporate synthetic ingredients as it is easy to formulate the recipe accordingly and cost wise very cheap. But this is not healthy.
Gulabs syrups do not utilise any artificial flavours, essence or thickeners.
What is the current distribution of Gulabs products? Going forward, what are the plans to scaleup the distribution? Are you working with any modern retailer as the part of your distribution strategy?
At present, we are distributing / reached out to: retailers - both general and modern trade – such as Reliance, Foodhall, Godrej's Natures Basket, Nuts N Spices etc. Distributors are there in a few cities. Our plan is to have distributors in all cities. We also cater to HORECA. Currently, we are catering to metro cities. Going forward, we intend to distribute to rest of the cities as well.
How do you plan to leverage from Jio Mart?
This partnership will be another significant milestone for us in bolstering the availability of our products, for customers to get hands on them easily.
Tell us about your USP?
We currently offerKhakhras, Masalas, Sharbats, Pickles and instant food such as Upma. The USP of our products are the age-old recipes, use of the highest quality raw materials, the finesse in the tasteand the ethnic looking packaging that helps to make them stand out.
Have you raised any sorts of funds so far or plan to?
Gulabs has been self-funded and currently there is no planto raise any, externally.
At last, kindly highlight your growth plans?
At present, we have strong presence in Metro cities. We intend to expand to the remaining cities by reaching out toretailing & HORECA segments. We will also begin to export our products in the near future.