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people 2014-04-11

More than coffee and conversation

An interaction with Rahul Leekha, Director, Di Bella Coffee, India.

By Deputy Features Editor
More than coffee and conversation

Di Bella Coffee has recently started its second time operation in India in association with Rahul Leekha. In an exclusive interaction with Restaurant India, Leekha speaks about Di Bella Coffee’s comeback theory and its strategic priorities at present.

What made Di Bella re-launch its operation in India?

After expanding our wings to New Zealand & China, the India foray was the next stage planned for our international development. We have been very well received by the Indian market and have created a niche in the premium coffee space in our first operation. Eighty percent of our footfalls have been loyal customers and our cafes have been breaking even in 4-6 months time which in itself is very encouraging. So, we planned to explore the speciality coffee space in India which is still untapped.

What went wrong in the first operation?

Di Bella Coffee is a very ethical company and has grown from grass root levels. We believe in being honest and doing business the right way, we had ethical differences with our previous shareholder and decided to settle the matter out of court. Having said that, the decisions we made were to keep us in forward track and gave us a good learning of the Indian market.

What new can we see at Di Bella Coffee now? How are you trying to make it different from the earlier operations?

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 Di Bella Coffee offers. Di Bella Coffee store design gives a contemporary, modern & stylish look ensuring a luxurious and sensual experience. Customers today are aspirational and want to experience premium brands more than previous generations. We are in the business of selling experience. We have observed that a customer will turn into a loyalist once he connects emotionally with a brand.

What is your biggest strategic priority at present? And what is your plan on expansion?

Di Bella Coffee has over 1200 retail & wholesale outlets globally in countries like Australia, New Zealand, China & India which serve more than 2.4 million cups of coffee per week. We continue to develop the market both nationally and internationally working on all the elements to create ‘The Ultimate Coffee Experience’, 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. We plan to create a niche market for coffee lovers by serving 100 percent premium imported coffee. We pay 108 percent import duty on the coffee so there is no compromise on quality.

Who according to you are your competitors in the market? What are you doing to excel Di Bella in the growing Indian coffee market?

CCD, Costa Coffee, Barista and Mocha are some of our competitors.

The more brands in the space, the more recognition the industry gets.  Moreover 80 percent of our footfall is loyal customers and we focus very hard to retain their loyalty. We aim to gather customer loyalty and promote our business mainly through the unique selling propositions.

What all coffee machine you use at your cafe?

We widely use Wega Coffee Machines in Australia and in India we also use La Cimbali coffee machines apart from Wega coffee machines. Both are very premium machines with high performance.

Who all are the machine suppliers?

We import the coffee machines directly from Italy.

What according to you is the future of Indian coffee industry?

The journey so far has been a toil but fruitful with good returns and brand acceptance. India is an emerging ‘cafe nation’ with immense scope for coffee consumption and production and has become one of the fastest growing coffee markets in the world. It is making its presence in the world market (through exports) as well as in the coffee-retailing due to the growing youth population in India.

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