Providing A Luxury Chocolate Experience And Indulgence: Vimal Sharma, Founder & CEO, SMOOR
We are in the range of 30% growth than the previous year during the festive season.
What is your business model and vision for SMOOR?
SMOOR is known for chocolates and desserts where chocolate is our IP. Our focus is on providing a luxury chocolate experience and indulgence, high-quality chocolates for gifting during occasions and chocolates as a snacking option. Recently the brand has completed its 5 years and in these 5 years, we have established our presence in Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai, and Delhi, at various locations, from the signature stores to kiosks in airports. SMOOR's vision is to become the number one luxury chocolate brand in India in the next 5 years.
What is your USP to fit in the market?
SMOOR is a homegrown brand that offers coverture chocolates, its pairing up with flavours, the cocoa percentages, and pairing up with Indian spices like hazelnut, macadamia nuts, and many more. SMOOR also has signature chocolate blends where we use special recipes during the process like we caramelize the chocolate or we stone grind the chocolate and also have a range of chocolates that we have explored with Indian farmers. We have the ability to bring new variants of chocolates, using the blends and customer palettes and launch them very quickly. Secondly, we can customize a box of chocolates according to customers' palettes. For example, if a customer is looking for a high cocoa percentage, we can create a box of pralines using the cocoa %. If they want to blend the chocolates to the Indian Mithais flavour, we can produce those as well. This not only goes for the gifting boxes but also, for your beverages as well as snacking chocolates.
Apart from chocolates what other product do you have?
We have kept our product line around chocolates. Other products that we have developed are chocolate base cakes, pastries, artisanal ice cream, 72% dark chocolate ice cream, 70% gluten-free cake, dark Belgium cakes, chocolate cheesecakes, other flavours like blueberry and red velvet. We also have macarons. We have introduced the macaron in 22 flavours which constitute with and without egg. Again it has different fillings like the ruby chocolate filling, gold chocolate fillings, and is extended to macarons cakes and cupcakes.
What are your expectations for this Diwali?
If you talk about Diwali or the entire festive season, we start our R&D 4 months in advance. We are a brand which is known for its gifting. We have come up with some amazing gift options this year, using the range of products we have developed and combining with the different packing, from eco-friendly banana fibre baskets, wooden boxes, jute bags and coming out with different customizable ranges like no-added-sugar baskets, vegan range of chocolates, customizing hampers which not only has chocolates but has caramel spread, coffee etc, which is part of the gifting. There are more than 50-60 different varieties of gifting ideas. One good thing about Diwali is that the customer can walk into various outlets of ours, where they can pick any product and we are able to customize the product according to their taste and budget. Even during the covid, we took care of the last mile. We did end to end delivery to individual locations. Be it online or bulk orders, we are geared to take orders, pack them and deliver to the customers' locations, pan-India.
What are the special offer for your customers?
We have created a wonderful range of vegan, no-added chocolate bites, a nice range of DIY hot chocolate beverage kits, new praline chocolates that include macaron chocolates, reusable packaging like baskets tins, wooden boxes that customers can easily reuse. For example, tins can be reused as flower pots.
What sales you are expecting this festive Season?
We are in the range of 30% growth than the previous year during the festive season. Last year, the festive season was challenging. Even though lockdown was open, people had a lot of reservations, but this year, people are back home and looking forward to celebrating. Family celebrations are very high on the agenda. So consumers are selective about the products they are ordering, they are giving orders in advance, they want their orders to reach the destinations well before Diwali. So, customers are well planned, generous in the money they are spending and everyone is in a celebration mode.
How this 30 % increase in sales will add to the revenue and valuation of Smoor?
We anticipate the sales to go higher during the festive season. It's not about valuation as such. All I can say is, we have reached a level that is better than the pre-covid level.
If we talk about the demand for chocolate this festive season what can be the number of demand this year?
This number is difficult to tell but we have seen significant growth in the chocolate category in the online space, as chocolates have a longer shelf life, can be easily packed and transported anywhere in India. So the ease of gifting and variety in terms of having a longer shelf life, consumers are choosing chocolates in comparison to other products with shorter shelf life. We have also seen higher demand for chocolates with higher cocoa percentages and snacking items like bites, bars. A lot of people are working from home and something like this complements usage at home.
What are the gifting trends this year?
We have seen a huge demand for hampers. Gifting hampers in tin boxes, jute bags, banana fibre hampers and others. Customers are choosing a lot more gift boxes this year with different varieties.
Being the startup are you planning to raise funds to expand in near future?
Yes, we are in the market to raise Series A funds and we are in serious discussion with some prime equity firms. We expect to be in a position to close this in the next six months.
What are your expansion plans?
In the next 7-8 months, we will be launching another 7-8 locations in Mumbai. At this point in time, we are launching our first store in Chennai in the coming week and opening a few more stores in Mumbai. Next year, we will take this to the next level. Currently, we have about 50+ outlets and we expect our business to grow by 5x in the next 3 years, and we should be racing towards 200+ outlets in various formats within the next 5 years.
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