Cookies. They are there in most of the bakery
shops, but only as an add-on product. No one really spotted
its stand-alone market potential. And it took an Indian,
a Chennai-settled American and an Australian company decided
to experiment with their idea of stand- alone cookie retail
And where else they would try out their retail idea. Chennai
obviously! Thus came into existence Cookie Man Foods India,
in the citys high profile shopping mall, Spencer's
After five months of operations, the promoters are really
happy the way their cookies melt in their customers
mouth and crumble into cash in their till box. Recalls
Mr. Chandrasekharan, "Initially, I was a bit sceptic
about the project. But the more I thought about it, the
more confident I was that the project would succeed."
John Lynch, director of Cookie Man, a Chennai-settled
American, had mooted the idea of a cookie retail chain
and prodded Mr. Chandrasekharan to start the venture.
Incidentally, it was Mr. Lynch who did the initial spadework
for the Australian beer giant, Foster's, to set up a production
base in India. Mr. Chandrasekharan, part of Pierce Leslie
group's project consulting wing, had worked with Mr. Lynch
in the Foster's project.
Thus, Cookie Man India Foods India was baked with cash
and technical ingredients from a the New Southwales-based
company, Australian Cookie Man Pty. Ltd., and couple of
non-resident Indians (NRIs) settled in the US.
Agrees Mr. Chandrasekharan, "Cookie Man cannot become
another Britannia or vice versa." According to him,
the unique selling proposition (USP) of the Cookie Man
retail shops is the freshness of cookies and the varieties
offered. "All I have to do is to slightly alter the
ingredients and add a new topping to get a new variety,"
says he, revealing some of his trade secrets.
According to him, Cookie Man now offers 30 varieties.
For mass biscuit producers like Britannia and others operating
their plants on the concept of economic order quantity,
baking variety of biscuits will not be an economical proposition.
date, at least Rs. 1 crore has been invested in Cookie
Man. The infrastructure includes a retail outlet and a
commissary. Set up at an outlay of Rs. 25 lakh, the commissary
can produce one tonne of dough per day, though the current
consumption is just 150 kg per day. "The commissary
was set up to sync with our expansion plans. The dough
is sent to Snowman's cold storage from where retail outlets
indent their requirements," adds Mr. Chandrasekharan.
Cookie Man plans to open another two to three of its own
retail outlets and expand the chain in other major cities
to 40 outlets through a franchising model by 2003. The
company is looking at Bangalore, Coimbatore, Kochi, Mumbai
and Delhi as its target market.
"As per the plans, franchisees will have to source
the dough and lease the baking oven from Cookie Man. This
way, our investment will go up to Rs. 4 crore by 2003.
A franchisee may have to invest around Rs.10 lakh in the
venture," explains Mr. Chandrasekharan.
Continuing on statistics, Mr. Chandrasekharan says one
outlet clocks a sale of Rs. 9 lakh per month at Rs. 240
per kg. Cookie Man can get 24 per cent return on investment
if it sells anything between 50 and 70 kg per day. According
to him, the royalty payment for the Australian partner
in exchange for the recipe is yet to be frozen. Cookie
Man imports some toppings and caramel-based material.
The Spencer's Plaza outlet, apart from selling cookies,
also vends coffee, tea and hot chocolate. The outlet averages
a sale of 200 cups per day. Interestingly, with the beverage,
a customer gets two cookies free.
Speaking on promotion, he says the company has tied up
with Konica. Any one, who does business with Konica worth
Rs.1, 200 will get 500 gram Cookie Man cookies free. Mr.
Chandrasekharan also distributes free samples in schools
and at places where women gather in good numbers.
Besides this, institutional sale is the other area of
focus. The company has bagged the mandate from a couple
of software companies for supplies. He is also planning
to have small but separate Cookie Man counters in other