Leonidas, the world famous Belgian pralines is a perfect marriage of tradition and quality combined with a contemporary style. In an interview with Abha Garyali, Vrinda Rambhia, Director of Business Development, Leonidas, Premium Pralines Private Limited, talks about the company’s success and its foray into franchising in India.
Abha Garyali (AG): Share ‘Leonidas’ success story from origin and growth to success.
Vrinda Rambhia (VR): Leonidas the famous Belgian Chocolatier was started by a young Greek Chocolatier, Leonidas Kestekides who went to Brussels in 1910 and finally settled there. He opened tearooms in Brussels, Ghent and Blankenberge where he used to sell his freshly made chocolates from the open window of his shop in Boulevard Anspach. This is the revolutionary concept which later on came to be known as the ‘guillotine-window’ shop and was an immediate success.
AG: What inspired your company to venture with ‘Leonidas’?
VR: It was difficult to get fresh quality chocolates in India. The USP of Leonidas is freshness, generosity and tradition. These are the key reasons which made Premium Pralines open a boutique of chocolates.
Earlier people used to gift traditional Indian sweets on any auspicious occasions but now people prefer exchanging different varieties of chocolates. An Indian consumer is always ready to try new products and with a wide range of high-quality products being available now from Leonidas, it will always be their first choice. To enhance the palate and evolve the taste buds of the Indian consumer, Premium Pralines decided to bring Leonidas to India.
AG: How many outlets will you be opening? Will they be franchised or company owned?
VR: We will be opening three new outlets by mid 2010 and all of them would be franchised.
AG: What is the eligibility criterion for taking the franchisee of ‘Leonidas’?
VR: We are a people centric organization. We believe in people with passion for their work, ambitious and who have a long-term vision. Every person has different skills and attributes that he/she bring into the business to make it successful.
AG: How many franchisees does ‘Leonidas’ have and in which all countries and cities?
VR: It has stores in 53 countries. Nowadays, all over the world, from Paris to London, Sydney to Tokyo and Brussels to New York you can find 1,600 shops with the characteristic Leonidas sign. Some are company owned while others are franchised.
AG: How much investment is required by an aspiring franchisee in terms of money, time and dedication?
VR: We have three different concepts for Leonidas - Leonidas Chocolate Boutique, Leonidas Chocolates & Café (LCC) and Shop in Shop Concept. The minimum requirement for a Shop-in-Shop is 100 sq. ft, for Chocolate Boutique it is 350 to 400 sq. feet and for a LCC it is 500 sq. ft. plus. The franchise requires an up-market location for the store. Depending on the concept the initial investment would depend from Rs.7 Lacs to 50 Lacs excluding the location.
AG: What are the company’s future plans in terms of expansion through franchising?
VR: We are looking at a mix of franchised outlets as well as company-owned in metros and tier-II cities.
AG: What are the challenges that can be faced by a franchisee in this business? How can they be overcome?
VR: Every company has a different business-model and all industries have different challenges. Leonidas provides thorough knowledge and training to overcome various challenges related to the F & B industry. We are a people-centric organization that believes in growing its own people and their business. The golden rule to success is to always be focused, innovative and passionate and this is what sets you apart from others and will be a winning strategy.