As with many other corners of the world, waffles might soon be a favourite in India too, if London Bubble Co has anything to say.
Waffles can be addictive. Correction, they are, witness almost any geography they are a staple part of. India has largely escaped that fate, whether by accident or the lack of waffle irons. The search for waffles might change soon, if London Bubble Co (LBC) has its way.
LBC seems to be on a mission to introduce the lure of waffles to the average urban Indian resident. Established in 2017, with its first outlet in Juhu, Mumbai, it now has 50 outlets already in several major cities such as Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Indore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Rajkot and Pune. As LBC is looking at further expansion, India looks to get more waffle friendly soon.
Launched by Saurabh Rathore, Founder & CEO, LBC is an eclectic continental dessert brand that offers a unique spin on traditional waffles. The brand specialises in bubble waffles, an eye-catching form of waffles, insta worthy, as our times might best describe it. Innovation and experimentation are at the core of London Bubble Co’s flavours, claims Rathore. “We offer a range of exotic waffles which combine popular Indian flavours to suit the global Indian palette like the Black Jack, a black waffle that is served with black charcoal ice cream and serves as a testament to our unique flavours.” Also on offer are pocket waffles, bubble waffle wraps, waffwiches, iced bubble chais, pocket waffles, bubble milkshakes – usually in a variety of flavours.
Internationally, waffles are a widely accepted breakfast option but that is not the case in India, points out Rathore. “Indians are hesitant to the consumption of sweet in the morning and therefore, waffles are perceived as a dessert option in India.”
Rathore sees the Indian waffle market as a niche space. He says it has six to eight per cent of the market share of the dessert market today, though it is growing in popularity. “While initially waffles were considered an expensive option for desserts, now, with the growing number of pocket-friendly prices, waffles are today a popular urban street dessert. Additionally, the Indian consumer has evolved and is now more experimental with food. Therefore, the market definitely poses a significant amount of untapped potential.”
The dessert space in India is highly segmented with an assortment of options such as Indian sweets, frozen desserts and western desserts, where waffles figures along with cakes, pancakes, macaroons and a host of other desserts. Currently, the mithai market in India is estimated at $500 million. In the past few years, western desserts have been growing in popularity with patisseries and bakeries opening in every nook and corner in major urban areas. This growing proclivity towards western desserts can be contributed to increasing globalisation, especially among the millennial population in Tier 1 & Tier 2 cities.
LBC, via Oyo
LBC has announced its intention to open the next 150 stores by 2022. A major facilitator in this process is expected to be its recent tie up with Oyo Townhouse. LBC is opening outlets within Oyo’s flagship properties, Oyo Townhouses, across India. The outlets will be operated from within Oyo kitchens and will function as any other outlet across the country. A specified percentage of both online and retail sales of the outlets through this tie-up will be shared with Oyo. This tie-up will also play a pivotal role in meeting the target of 200 stores through Oyo’s extensive network of properties, says Rathore.
These outlets will serve as a cloud kitchen as well for this model of operations and we intend to grow this partnership to other cities too, says Rathore. The partnership will also introduce cloud kitchens that will help reach its audiences through online partners, according to Rathore. “What makes this tie-up unique is the benefit it provides to both parties in terms of increasing efficiency of operations. For Oyo, the tie-up has opened up a way to capitalise on the unutilised kitchen space by essentially renting the space to us. For us, the tie-up has led to lower costs in terms of creating infrastructure and rental costs.” Another feature – the outlets will not follow a guest-only policy and will be open to the general public as well. The menu in these outlets too will be the same as in any other outlet.
Whether you prefer the classic or exotic, with so many LBC outlets in the offing, your days of waffling around in search of the daily waffle may be well and truly over!