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Suresh Kumar & Co. Pvt. Ltd: bringing international food products to the Indian shopping basket

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Suresh Kumar & Co. Pvt. Ltd: bringing international food products to the Indian shopping basket

The Indian consumer is getting experimental with his tastes. From small grocery stores to lavish hypermarkets, imported products are adorning the retail shelves. Indian shopping baskets now pick up Washington apples, Italian pasta, Swiss chocolates, French cheese, and other ingredients from the 10-15% of the total organized retail space. Increasing cash flow, ascending living standard and rising inclination of the middle-income groups and their spending patterns have paved the way for imported tastes from all over the world into their kitchen and plate. Mounting imports demands of the country has elevated the contribution of the Indian food industry to world food trade by emerging as a favourable ground for high-growth and high-profit. Influenced by globalization, urbanization, changing food habits, lifestyles and rising income have enlightened the way to welcome food manufacturers across the globe. These foreign brands have influenced the colours, flavours and aroma of the modern Indian consumer’s food.

Well, the grass is not greener all the way.

Although heavy import duties and lack of infrastructural support have crippled the entry of many international players on the Indian retail shelves, there are still many brands whose name might not ring the bell but have insinuated themselves into the Indian palate. Despite the odds, hoe did they get successful in reaching the storage spaces of the Indian Kitchen?  This is where the linking line-processed food importers like Suresh Kumar & Co. (Impex) Pvt Ltd come in the picture. Acknowledged as one of the oldest importers of processed food products in India, Suresh Kumar & Co. speaks for over 25 Top International Food brands as their exclusive agents for the Indian market. With its footprints over 120 cities across the country, the organization’s products enjoy their allocation in 10000 retail stores, fuelled by 5 company-owned offices and 300+ sub-distributors.

The inception

“Our success over the years is based on a single mantra, “Meeting our clients need to their satisfaction”. We take pride to call ourselves “The Good Food People”.

A fourth generation family business, Suresh Kumar & Company’s foundation was laid back in the year 1994 under the leadership of Mr Suresh Asrani. Mr Suresh Asrani is considered a pioneer in the business of imported food products. Before stepping into the entrepreneurial world, Mr Asrani joined his family business – exports of Mushrooms & Walnuts at an early age. This gave him an opportunity to cruise all over the world. His sharp business acumen attracted him to focus on an opportunity in the import of international food brands in India.

It was mid-1990s where the country was evolving post liberalisation. People were travelling and there was the availability of disposable income to try new culinary adventures. The initial journey was quite daunting; high import duties, lack of awareness of the product & a limited number of outlets for sales were the biggest challenges. The 2000’s retail boom in India fostered the expansion of the Indian market. Leaving the kitchen behind, women approaching the corporate sector which further inculcated the awareness & need for high-quality food products. Observing the need, Suresh Kumar & Co. anchored their footprints strongly within the market and the company has been growing over 30% YOY since then.

To create a landmark in the industry, Suresh Kumar & Co. launched ‘Abbie’s’, the first private brand under its umbrella to target the mothers who wanted to give the best to their kids. Today, the brand enjoys a presence over 100 SKU and modern trade stores.  An ISO 9001:2008 & ISO 22000: 2005 certified company, the brand strives to be the most reliable partners for processed food products in India.

Fostering a culture of ‘Rising from the bottom’, the pillars of the organization, top management have started with the inception of the firm-the grass root level. To know more about the sui generis voyage of the firm, we interacted with the leader himself.

Let’s have a look

What adds to the dexterity of Suresh Kumar & Co.?

We believe in offering Best Product at Best Price to our customers. We do not bring the cheapest of the products from the bottom of the pyramid, neither do we believe in the high end, overpriced items. We walk on the opinion that India is still discovering it’s taste buds for International cuisine. We have the most diverse cuisine in the world, and our consumer knows the difference between good product & bad product. At the same time, they are also looking for value for money. We try to maintain the balance, while never compromising on the quality.

Who are your clients?

Due to the diverse nature of the products we carry, we cater to all segments of the market. From a small grocery store to the biggest hypermarket. From a small restaurant to all major five-star hotels are our customers.

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What are the big achievements associated with Suresh Kumar & Co.?

In 2006, we tied up with Unilever USA to market 6 of their brands in India. And in the year 2016, we launched our private brand, which represents 20% of the company’s turnover.

What’s next for the company?

We are focusing on growing the private brands, as this gives us the flexibility to launch products as per the specific requirement from our customers. We see a lot of consolidation happening next year. We envision maintaining our growth rate at 30%.

We are in touch with our foreign suppliers for a Joint venture in India. We strongly support the government’s ‘Make in India initiative’ and foresee future in welcoming big brands to manufacture in India and create more job opportunities and support the economy.  Our target is now to set up state of the art food factories in India and to offer the same taste & quality at affordable prices.

What was your journey like to get where you are?

The journey for every entrepreneur should have lots of ups and downs. In operation theatre too, a straight line means you are dead. Fortune has always smiled on us and we have seen more success than failures.

How do you learn in your life and what is your biggest dream?

I take inspirations from everyone I meet. It is not about money or success; it’s about excellence & passion. I dream of making this company big enough to provide employment to over a thousand deserving candidates. I also dream of having a school where underprivileged children could get a quality education and the right direction for life.

What was the most difficult lesson you have learned as an entrepreneur?

Separating emotions from business- we sometimes let our heart take decisions which are not good for business.

Tell me how you’ve approached change.

I am an old-school businessman, who has tried his best to keep abreast with the changes happened in the last 4 decades. There are many good things which have helped business which includes cheaper and faster communication, easier travel, great awareness. However, we have observed a decline in work ethics, which, is a worrisome trend.

What advice can you give entrepreneurs who want to venture into the same domain in the future?

Know your customers and their requirements. Do not force your liking on them.

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