Back in 2017, Fair Group introduced the popular franchise Secret Recipe in Bangladesh, bringing with it a scrumptious line of sweet and savoury treats for the eager tastebuds of the country. Over the years, the brand has established itself with its unique and delectable offerings. To unravel the journey behind Secret Recipe’s Success, we decided to hold a talk with K.S.M. Mohith-ul Bari, Head of Business, Pepperoni Ltd. (Secret Recipe) and Mutassim Daiaan, Director, Fair Technology.
Mohith-ul Bari joined Pepperoni Limited, Fair Group’s subsidiary managing the Secret Recipe franchise back in 2016. Prior to joining Secret Recipe as Head of Business, his extensive career in the restaurant and food industry saw him serve the roles of Associate Director at Nando’s Bangladesh (MGH Restaurants Pvt. Ltd.) and General Manager at MGH Restaurants Pvt. Ltd. Mutassim Daiaan, a promising and talented next-generation entrepreneur has followed in his father’s footsteps to lead the latest endeavour of Fair Group in assembling and manufacturing Hyundai’s cars for the Bangladeshi market.
BBF: What inspired Fair Group to venture into the Food & Restaurant industry?
Mutassim Daiaan: Mr. Ruhul Alam Al Mahbub, Chairman, Fair Group is a visionary person with keen interest and passion for food. He always wanted to contribute to the society by creating job opportunities and training the unskilled workforce.
He observed that the organized F&B retail in Bangladesh has huge potential to flourish specially with the changing demographics, increase in income and urbanization. Moreover, he always wanted to offer customers best quality food and experience by maintaining world class health & hygiene practices.
Tell us about the journey of Secret Recipe in Bangladesh since its inception.
Mohith-ul Bari: Secret Recipe started its operations from October of 2017 and since then has had a phenomenal journey by winning the hearts of the food enthusiasts of Bangladesh. The innovation, newness and variety of its food, cakes and desserts are the key for its popularity amongst its customers. As of now the brand has outlets in 11 strategic locations in Dhaka. We are also planning to open several more outlets in Dhaka and the port city of Chittagong this year.
What is the branding ethos of Secret Recipe and how do you uphold them in Bangladesh?
As a brand, Secret Recipe is extremely focused on the usage of the premium quality ingredients for all its products. The brand’s primary ethos are to delight its customers with delectable taste, extraordinary guest experience and maintaining world class standards on health and hygiene.
To maintain the height standard of quality and food safety the brand goes through the 4 layers of rigorous auditing process which includes third party audit firms inspecting for food safety and compliance.
Can you give us some insights into the key emerging trends of the Food and Business Industry?
Nowadays, customers are more inclined towards specialty restaurants and cafés. Contemporary Chinese, Japanese, Italian cafés, gourmet bakeries, bistros etc. are very popular among the foodies.
Besides, in the Covid-19 pandemic period we have seen the influx of cloud kitchens and home delivery services which kept the industry progressing.
How do you see the evolving consumer food palate in Bangladesh and how is Secret Recipe catering to the growing segments?
The consumers always want innovation and newness in the menu and accordingly Secret Recipe offers new meals, beverages and desserts in every alternating month. It has a wide variety of menus, primarily Continental and Asian. The café also offers breakfast and gourmet snacks.
What’s the secret behind Secret Recipe’s allure towards the Bangladeshi consumers’ sweet tooth?
In Secret Recipe there is no compromise with uses of the finest quality ingredients imported from various sources of Europe and Australia that makes its product unparalleled in taste. Beside the wide variety and flavours of cream and cheesecake are very much exclusive to this brand which no other competition offers. Moreover, its delightful desserts never fail to charm its customers.
Based on your extensive experience in the food industry, what does it take to build a successful restaurant brand?
The most fundamental necessities to build a successful restaurant brand are people, place and product. In restaurants, people related to service play a pivotal role in providing customers with extraordinary experience. They are the reason customers keep coming back to a specific eatery.
The location of a restaurant has a huge impact on its success. If it is in the wrong place, it will not attract the amount of customers it will require in order to stay in business. A good location with a cosy ambiance that guests will want to experience time and again.
To survive and to be successful in a competitive business environment, one has to focus on unique and quality food offering.
In your opinion, what are some of the key challenges in the Restaurant industry?
I have been working with international restaurant brands for more than 14 years. During this journey I have been spearheading the launch and expansion of international restaurant chains which later became extremely popular among the food enthusiasts of Bangladesh.
The biggest challenge for the restaurant industry in Bangladesh is the scarcity of retail space and its astoundingly high rental. Rent to revenue ratio for restaurants located in the prime area of the city is around 25% to 30%. This is the major impediment for growing the number of outlets exponentially.
Supply chain is another area of concern, since 60% raw materials have to be sourced from different parts of the world. Duty and tax on raw material is very high and as such it is very difficult to price a product which is affordable for the mass consumer.