Ankur Damani is the Country Head at Le Creuset, the world's leading French cookware brand and a renowned market leader among the premium cookware brands globally.
In an interview with Restaurant India, Ankur Damani, Country Head at Le Creuset India, speaks on why hotel and restaurant chains prefer Le Creuset products in the country.
Cultivating Innovation With Le Creuset India
It has been an absolute pleasure to partner with an iconic brand like Le Creuset, which is best in the world in its category and has a legacy dated back to 1925. The 6-year journey has been more than enriching from securing the brand in retail via FDI in the single-brand retail route, to opening eight stores in the best malls across India and replicating the wonderful Le Creuset experience in India. Le Creuset has a very open culture, and cultivates innovation and creativity, especially with immense freedom to implement ideas locally, and relevant for each market. Such independence is very motivating and impactful to each local market.
The Top Selling Products
Le Creuset's enamelled cast iron collection has been the company's signature best-selling collection worldwide. Cast Iron, which is still forged and crafted by hand, is our world-leading cookware range offering versatility, unprecedented appearance and the ability to retain and spread heat evenly.
Must have signature pieces for every kitchen would include Le Creuset Cast Iron Round and Shallow Casseroles & the iconic Wok, 3 Ply Stainless Steel Chef Pans, Toughened Non-Stick Frying Pans & Shallow Casseroles all complemented with the superbly crafted and vibrant stoneware mugs.
Contribution To The HoReCa Segment
Le Creuset is the preferred brand across many hotel chains and our products are used in India in leading star and luxury hotels.
Products Designed for Restaurants
The first Le Creuset Casserole was cast in 1925 using the raw materials of coke, iron and sand at our foundry in Fresnoy-le-Grand, France. The same foundry is still handcrafting our enamelled cast iron cookware in much the same way today. Craftsmen still apply the same skills and high standards to produce each individual cookware piece guaranteeing unrivalled quality each time you purchase Le Creuset. Throughout the process, the products are continuously quality checked passing through at least 20 pairs of hands to ensure the highest product quality is maintained for every cast iron piece manufactured at the foundry, ensuring every Le Creuset product is fully tested for a lifetime of cooking.
Therefore, Le Creuset ensures the same quality, functionality and durability of their products whether it's a household or a hotel/restaurant.
Le Creuset India's Innovations
Le Creuset India offers the latest 'Freestyle Collection'. The Freestyle colour palette includes the classics; Volcanic Orange, Marseille Blue and Rosemary. The chosen shades are available across Cast Iron, Stoneware and Kitchen Accessories. The collection also showcases the diversity and unrivalled cooking performance of the 3-ply Stainless Steel and Toughened Non-Stick ranges. The store also offers the newly-launched professional Kitchen Knives.
Impact of Le Creuset India
Le Creuset entered India in 2007, primarily operating in the HoReCa and wholesale segments. The iconic French cookware brand opened its first company-owned retail store in February 2014, after being amongst the first four brands to secure the single brand FDI license for retailing in India.
The response has been phenomenal in the HoReCa segment, with most premium hotel chains using Le Creuset products. The response to the retail stores has been great, and it is extremely encouraging to see many consumers aware of the brand and using our products for years now, having bought from other countries in the past.
Le Creuset is expanding rapidly in India with its focus on retail stores and is one of the fastest growing markets for Le Creuset globally. We have already opened 8 stores in Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Pune and are happy to share that the brand has been well received. Le Creuset plans to open more stores across metropolitan cities like Hyderabad and Kolkata in the near future.
Challenges Faced While Marketing the Product/s
Being a brand of French origin, it has often been perceived that the cast iron pots are ideal only for European cuisine. Secondly, cast iron as a category is not widely used in India & stainless steel is the staple cookware in Indian households. The brand has worked really hard to change the perception via cooking demonstrations with Celebrity Chefs, recipe handouts to showcase the versatility of the cookware, cookery shows on television, educating the customer on a continuous basis in our stores, on social media and through Chef interactions.
Expansion Plans of Le Creuset India
Retail has been a key focus area & we have expanded into 8 company owned & company-operated stores in premium malls across India.
Hospitality is a strategic channel for us where we have expanded our footprint into premium hotels across the country and are a preferred brand across many hotel chains.