“In April 2012, whilst I was shaping and working one of my first sourdoughs, a French Pain Aux Cereales, I knew in that moment that baking bread is the purpose of my life and would also lead to the genesis of our bakery brand,” shared Aditi Handa, Co-founder, The Baker’s that began its journey via a small kitchen and 4 bakers (including Aditi herself) in Mumbai in 2012. Aditi together with her Co-founder and Managing Director Sneh started the brand on the roots of being an artisan handmade brand. “We were clear that we wanted to start a bakery but what this bakery would make was a bit uncertain, she added. Today, Baker’ Dozen caters to about 75,000 customers, and the number has been increasing at about 300 percent year-on-year. Excerpts from the interview:
Running on authenticity
“Our USP is that we are the only national brand with an artisan handmade product which is scalable and present across cities,” shared Handa whose signature product ‘Sourdough’ stands out because of its natural characteristics, similarly The Baker’s Dozen stands out because of its wide authentic offerings - ‘best quality artisan handmade products at an affordable price.
Love of a ‘Healthy Loaf’
According to Handa, the rise of sourdough is due to three primary reasons. One being that pandemic has got us closer to ourselves making us realize the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Hence, this healthy lifestyle shift has led to the swelling demand for this healthy loaf of bread. And second being its baking technique, as prophylactic life has confined us to our homes, we all have engaged ourselves in baking, as it brings different kinds of comfort and calmness which was most desired in the pandemic. However, adding to that, sourdough making and baking brings along its unique simplicity and humble techniques that will ultimately have one’s undivided attention and love. And last but not the least, the increasing appreciation and love of food connoisseurs for the flavour, form, versatility and authenticity of sourdough has captured every player and restaurateur’s attention.
What new innovation can we see in this segment?
I believe artisanal breads are on the verge of carving out its space and it will soon happen where we will see them in every household so the demand for artisanal bakes will intensify.
What are some of the sourdough menu at the Baker’s Dozen? Which is your favourite?
We have Fourgain Sourdough, Chill Cheese Sourdough, Blueberry Cranberry Sourdough, Indian Sourdough and a Country Sourdough. My favourite would be the Fourgrain and the dark chocolate cookies.
How difficult or easy was it for you to convince customers who were more addicted or used to the white bread?
Initially it was very difficult and challenging because in 2013 when we had launched our products, especially sourdough bread, most of our patrons weren’t actually aware of bread and it was like an alien subject to them. Educating them about the sourdough and making them fall in love with it while maintaining the production flow intact was necessary but took a lot of time and effort. We began free sampling initially to all the walk-in customers while also went door to door in a few areas for sampling purposes.
How many outlets are you running as of now?
We have 16 outlets pan-India across 5 cities with a mix of branded and delivery-only stores. Also, we’ll be soon entering Bangalore with a branded store.
Riding on delivery
2020 has accentuated the importance of consumer-brand relationship which has led brands to reframe their strategies through their D2C models so that they can directly be in touch with their consumers on a regular basis. So post Covid, we moved to a D2C first model with our high focus on opening our own store branded and delivery only outlets (5x growths in number of outlets over the last 6 months). With this D2C pan-India expansion drive, our aim is to build a strong omni-channel sales strategy of own stores, delivery outlets, retail partners and e-commerce partners helping us scale rapidly.
High on expansion
Our aim in the coming years is to build India’s largest D2C bakery brand by expanding to more than 100 own stores & 1000 retail touch points across 25 cities in India (metros, tier-1 and tier-2). Using our stores as well as the D2C model as the foundation, we will enhance the user ordering experience; we want to develop a loyal customer clientele preferring our sourdough breads as their daily bread! We are also expecting to generate Rs 20 crore revenue this year, with 10 percent EBITDA.