Offering fully flavoured and finest coffee, an Australian café brand Di Bella promises ultimate coffee experience to coffee lovers. Rahul Leekha, Partner, Di Bella India, discusses brand’s franchise expansion plans in India.
Priyanka Rai (PR): Share with us the inception and growth Di Bella brand.
Rahul Leekha (RL): Di Bella Coffee was founded in 2002 by Philip Di Bella.
We aim to provide Australia’s ‘Ultimate Coffee Experience’ to our customers. Recognised for its signature coffee blends, it is the fastest-growing and most awarded coffee company in Australia. Today, Di Bella Coffee has over 1200 retail and wholesale outlets globally in countries like Australia, New Zealand, China and India which serve more than 2.4 million cups of coffee per week. We continue to develop the market through the constant pursuit of premium quality beans, the development of rich full-flavoured blends, the use of the finest coffee machinery and the education of the coffee processes.
PR: What is the brand’s USP?
RL: Di Bella Coffee is much more than just coffees and conversation; it’s the ultimate coffee experience. We aim to gather customer loyalty and promote our business mainly through the unique selling propositions. Our signature coffee blends are sourced from world’s finest coffee growing regions to achieve a distinct taste profile for each blend. We are also the first and only coffee chain in India to have a full digital interactive platform throughout all stores. This includes tablets on each table for menu ordering, internet and email usage. Our application software has been designed to offer full Facebook interactivity with our menu to ensure our consumers have a personal connection with our brand.
The launch of our mobile application will offer the consumer convenience at their fingertips by allowing them to order coffee anywhere, anytime. Our crockery has also been crafted to give a special and personal experience to each customer.
PR: When and why did you plan to expand via franchise?
RL: We have achieved a consistent growth having set foot in India earlier this year and intend to further increase our presence through an exclusive franchise proposition. We have now begun to invite select investors/franchise partners who understand the credenda of our company to join us and be part of our winning team. In India, Di Bella Coffee has opted the franchise pathway as it provides brand recognition, economies of scale, and most importantly a localised management structure.
PR: Share your current presence in India?
RL: We only launched earlier this year. Currently we are operational in Mumbai with seven outlets and three more stores are in pipeline in the next quarter. All Mumbai outlets are presently company-owned. We have begun fit-out works for two stores in Hyderabad and are looking to launch more outlets there in the next 3-4 months. These outlets are being launched via the franchising route.
PR: What are your expansion plans in the country?
RL: We are looking at markets like Pune, Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore for expansion, both through company-owned and franchised outlets, within the next 1 to 2 years.
PR: How much investment would require by prospective franchisee?
RL: We prefer a partner with existing or prior F&B knowledge, however it is not essential. The area requirement is 800- 1,200 sq ft (carpet area) and investment required for a typical outlet is Rs 50 – 70 lakh which includes interiors, equipment, working capital and training.
PR: What kind of training and support do you offer to your franchisee?
RL: We bring our expertise and commitment to our partners and offer our franchisees extensive business experience and a proven operational system to assist them to grow quickly, efficiently and successfully.
We also deploy our teams full-time at the locations and handhold the business right from day one in order to ensure the franchisee can manage end-to-end operations of their store.
PR: What is your overview of Indian café market?
RL: Coffee retailing is a growing segment in India. According to reports, it is currently close to Rs 450 crore and is expected to grow 30 per cent annually. India is an emerging Cafe Nation with immense scope for coffee production and consumption.
Customers today are aspirational and want to experience premium brands more than previous generations. While the baby-boomers in India were mostly tea drinkers, today’s younger generation are following the trend of their western counterparts; sipping on cappuccinos. For us, the journey so far has been a toil but fruitful with good returns brand acceptance.