“A sense of calling from God..”. Reason to start a business in India.

“A sense of calling from God – if you want to see the exciting things I’m going to do in India, you should come.”

So they came. So says Anna Hambly of Red Moon Bakery, New Delhi, who mov ed to India along with David Hambly, her husband, from British Columbia, Canada. [Picture courtesy: The Globe and Mail]

Coming out of the holiday season, I thought recounting how India is taking to Christmas and how the Hamblys are a success story, due to their daring, faith inspired venture in India, would be a great way to start 2012.

I got to know about the Red Moon Bakery from a couple of stories in  The Globe and Mail. A fascinating read- this success story of a couple from Victoria in British Columbia who are by nature ‘not adventurous’, ‘don’t like big cities’ [thought Vancouver was big and then landed in New Delhi which is some seven times in population], ‘don’t like the heat’ and ‘risk averse’  but today, have this to say: “It’s been great”. Inspiring words for a businessman or entrepreneur looking to start a business in India.

Take a look at the success that the Hamblys have made of their business: “from an original operation in a pocket-sized kitchen with four employees, the Hamblys have moved to a big space in an industrial area, hired 20 more people, and will soon have a store in an upscale shopping area. Ms. Hambly is approached daily about franchising into other Indian cities”, reports the Globe  and Mail. Not a surprise at all, if you look at some facts and figures about the food industry and food retailing in India.

If you look at the the snacks and confectionery market in India, the numbers and projections are staggering:

Distinctive branding 
•The Indian market holds enormous growth potential for snack food, which is estimated to be a market worth US$   3 billion. The market is clearly and equally divided into the organised and unorganised sector. The organised sector of the snack food market is growing at 15% – 20% a year while the growth rate of the US$ 1.56 billion unorganised sector is 7% – 8%.
•BMI has predicted a 22 per cent growth in value terms in India’s confectionery market till 2012.
Food retailing is the fastest growing in India’s retail industry

To understand the true potential of the organized food processing market, it is important to know what is happening to food retail in India. The changes & trends in food retail will have a direct impact on urban consumption of packaged and branded food products. And these are trends that have been contributing to Red Moon Bakery’s growth as well:

•The food and grocery market in India is the sixth largest in the world. Food and grocery retail contributes to 70 per cent of the total retail sales. According to industry estimates, the segment is growing at a rate of 104 per cent and is expected to grow to US$ 482 billion by 2020.
•According to a BMI forecast, India is likely to see a huge 443 per cent increase in mass grocery retail (MGR) sales during the 2007-2012 period.
•Ninety nine per cent of this segment is unorganised, and therefore, there is immense scope for growth for the organised sector.
Red Moon Bakery: Upscale product & marketing
The Hambly’s  & Red Moon Bakery with their new menu, adherence to high quality, distinctive branding, neat presentation [www.redmoonbakery.com] and real customer service had the right product at the right time. And as we all know, that, in essence, is great business sense.
Which brings me to the changing customer behaviour and trend relating to Christmas that is showing up in urban India, which leads to Canada’s Nanaimo bars, from Red Moon, finding new die-hard fans in India. Urban India is teeming with young, educated, aspiring consumers whose lifestyle is getting westernized in many ways. And Red Moon Bakery is at the confluence of two such trends- one is the adoption of a more westernized lifestyle, like taking to the festive times during Christmas; the second being a more open, liberal  eating habit, eager for new taste experiences.
Consider this as a litmus test for a sense of how Indians are taking to Christmas and the attendant festivities: in a country where the Christian population accounts for just 2%, Christmas is all over in schools in urban India. Take a look at the the set of pictures of a kindergarten school in Red Moon Bakery’s New Delhi [Picture Courtesy: Hindustan Times]. And if you juxtapose this with how secular and non-committal we are becoming in our schools in North America when it comes to religious festivity, the starkness of the contrast in the way the East is moving will be very apparent to all of us.

 So it must not be surprising at all for the Hamblys’ to find that their Christmas time sales doubles. “Christmas doubles our volume,” said Ms. Hambly. “Some of it is expats – but more and more of it is for Indians. They want gifts to give, and they want all those traditional Christmas-y things like mincemeat and gingerbread houses.”
To quote The Globe and Mail further: The Hamblys, who are evangelical Christians, have watched bemused as Christmas has become an ever-bigger deal over their eight years in India.

“Christmas for us is about the birth of Christ,” said Mr. Hambly, as young assistants ebbed around him in the kitchen. “But from a business standpoint, having it become this big commercial thing is – well, it is good for business. The thing that I hope doesn’t happen in India is that the West comes in and then they lose the good things about Indian culture.”

It is this sense of empathy that you develop for India and the kind of business success that you experience, that has made the Hamblys feel that India is indeed, their second home.

 [For those of you keen on checking out the Globe and Mail stories on the Hamblys and Red Moon Bakery: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/with-gifts-cakes-and-evergreen-trees-indians-celebrate-the-ultimate-festival/article2281585/ and http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/worldview/bakery-headed-by-canadian-couple-a-hit-among-indians-craving-foreign-goodies/article2281774/ ]

Published by Alex Alagappan

Brand Builder. Ally. Strategist. Ideas Champ. Founder Partner. Chief Big Rain.

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