Ice Cream Labs to Open 100 Outlets in India: Vikrant Tomer The brand known for its unique way of making made-to-order ice-cream instantly using liquid nitrogen has ambitious global expansion plans with major focus on India with 100 stores in the offing.
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The nitrogen-frozen ice-cream innovation, which is catching consumer senses the world over, had its invention back in 2013 by two youngsters in California, US, who were bored of normal packed and frozen ice-creams. They wanted a fresh product, which is instantly made from fresh ingredients into ice cream. That's when the liquid nitrogen came into the picture. The idea was taken over and took shape in Dubai, UAE in 2014. In just five years of existence, the brand has expanded its presence across nine countries including Malaysia, UK, Portugal, India, Nigeria, Iraq and entire GCC. In a candid conversation, Vikrant Tomer, COO-International, Ice Cream Lab, shares the company's plans for India.
What is the potential you see in the Indian market?
Ice cream business in India holds great opportunities as the per capita consumption of ice cream is too low as compared to countries like US and China. So, the bandwidth is very high. Moreover, ice cream is not a seasonal item as it sells across the seasons. It is in fact an impulse purchase as people consume it when they are happy as well as when they feel sad. Ice cream has become the modern version of dessert welcomed by all age groups of people.
The best part of the ice cream business is that your capital and operating expenses are not high and your return on investment is marginally better as compared to other food businesses.
What are the USPs of your brand?
We are fascinating customers with our molecular gastronomy freezing concept, using liquid nitrogen to instantly freeze all-fresh natural ice cream base. We fulfill customers' desires and prepare each cup of ice cream in front of them. We offer over 16 flavours of ice cream, which are developed as per the local geographies and their taste preferences after rigorous research and development.
How do you plan to expand in India?
We have established over 15 stores across the globe in five years. Over the next six months, we will add around 19 more outlets as they are in the final stages of opening.
In India, we are planning to open 100 outlets over the next three years. We are targeting 560 outlets across the world over the next three years. We are scouting for partners who have a passion for food business. We will support our partners with a robust logistics and supply chain system, which we have strengthened over the last two years of existence in India. We firmly believe that logistics is the backbone of any franchise business. If you are not a master of logistics, you are most probably going to fail.
Can you take us through the business model of a unit franchise?
The investment required for an Ice Cream Lab franchise is very nominal. The startup investment for a kiosk of 200-250 sq. ft area is just Rs 15 lakh. This includes the capital expenses as well as operating expenses for the first two months. After these two months, the operational expenses will cost no more than 30-35 per cent of the revenues. The profit margin comes at around 32 per cent. All the franchise outlets are doing fantastically well. and are profitable.
(This article was first published in the September 2019 issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)