In an exclusive interview to Restaurant India, Kazem Samandari, Chairman, French bakery talks about his idea of opening a bakery in India.
After living in France for years, Kazem Samandari moved to India out of the love for his children and grand children who settled in India due to some professional reasons. Observing great opportunity in India , Samandari opened L’Opera- French Bakery in 2011.
Why did you select India over other countries?
We didn’t choose India, India chose us. My daughter who is a lawyer and her husband who at that time was working with McKenzie, chose to settle in India for professional reasons. They relocated from France to Delhi, following which we felt lonely and wanted to be close to our children and grand children. So, my wife, my mother in law, my son and I came to India to live with them. The idea of opening a French bakery came at a later stage because we realised that there was an opportunity window as this high level, high quality product did not exist in an accessible manner for everybody. Such products were offered only in 5 star hotels, which surely was not accessible for many. I believe we were the first to initiate this kind of product and made them accessible to the normal customers.
How has been the journey so far in India?
It has been a wonderful journey in India in the field of authentic French bakery and pastry so far. We see a bright future for the segment of the industry. There is a growing demand and people are becoming more and more quality conscious. And, if you stick to your values, standards and provide quality product under timely process, then I think sky will be the limit.
How do you see the emergence of bakery in the breakfast biz in India?
As a French person, when we say breakfast, we have a particular idea what breakfast is. When we see breakfast we think of baguette, toast & jam, butter, French cream, coffee, tea and hot chocolate etc. We imagine different flavours and brands and these are the products which people are getting interested in, coupled with the traditional Indian breakfast.
What’s pushing this trend?
Indians who are travelling extensively, global Indians present in India and also the increase in income, which has made people interested in western type of food. Also, French breakfast is growing and becoming a very interesting market for the future.
How many outlets you are operating presently? What is the expansion plan?
We are operating 13 outlets in Delhi-NCR and there are two in the final stages. Within next three months we will reach 15 in Delhi-NCR and our expansion plan for next three to four years will be to reach over 65 outlets in over 6 cities in India. We are targeting Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru and Chennai, besides Delhi and Gurgaon.