How the COVID-19 pandemic helped meat provider Fipola in Chennai to grow its monthly revenue from 1.5 crore to 4 crore in less than 45 days
At a time when most businesses are struggling, this Chennai-based meat provider is bringing home the bacon. Literally. And believe it or not, they have the coronavirus to thank.
Fipola began as a farm to fork retail and online store for meat essentials back in 2017. Home delivery was an option, but you had to wait a while - given limited 'in-house' delivery staff. Their USP - a clean in-store experience with a priority around hygiene and temperature controlled meat counters for better storage was a bonus for meat eaters. But not an essential, when you could get you leg of lamb for marginally less from your local butcher down the street.
But all of that changed post-lockdown. In the weeks following the government's announcement in March, managing director and CEO of Fipola, Sushil Kanugolu began noticing their customer size going from interested to massively scaled to OMG-level overwhelming. While most companies are downsizing or making salary cuts the norm, this one had to outsource some its services in order to meet demand. Although strongly-driven by streaming business directly via their website since inception, he says, "We decided to tie up with food aggregators and delivery services like Swiggy, Zomato and Dunzo."
Mutton INR 660 Mutton INR 990
Chicken INR 179 Chicken INR 219
75% In-store 40% In-store
25% Online 60% Online
Mutton INR 620 Mutton INR 950
Chicken INR 160 Chicken INR 210
He did anticipate that things would take a turn after May 3, once butcher shops were allowed to reopen. "We thought that we might see a dip in business," the CEO recalls. But the numbers only continued to rise. "We were growing eight to 10 per cent week on week. And this led to us growing our monthly revenue from 1.5 crore to 4 crore in less than 45 days. " he says.
Perhaps, this is because of the unlikely prospect of social distancing and grimy, possibly blood-stained surfaces at a butcher shop. As for competitors with a more level playing field, we reached out to virtual and in-store provider TenderCuts with a similar format of service. CEO Nishanth Chandran tells us, that business has seen a growth of 300 per cent. "We have gone from 1.5 lakh orders pre-lockdown to over 4 lakh per month. These numbers account for our Chennai and Hyderabad markets combined," he says.
Beyond the fresh meat essentials like chicken and mutton (also much sought-after given the iftar season) and of course eggs - there is another vertical that is beginning to emerge: marinated meats. So far, these came in limited numbers for last-minute meals. But cut to the present day, and with everyone cooking their own food - this line of products we are told has 3Xed in sales. "We are seeing this particularly in upmarket neighbourhoods like Adyar, Alwarpet and Kotturpuram, as well as IT hubs like ECR and OMR," Sushil points out. Fipola currently has 10 marinated options, but with the fast rising increasing in purchases, will expand their line to include six more options (INR 125 to INR 250). Some of the newer marinades to look out for by the end of next month will be Chicken Ghee Roast, Mutton Chukka, Goan Seer Fish Fry and Masala Mackerel. And the expansion doesn't stop here.
The brand is in the process of readying six new (dark) stores that will operate like cloud kitchens, to faster meet customer requirements in Porur, Medavakkam, Perumbur, Tambaram, Velachery and Ambattur. This is in addition to its 10 existing retail outlets in Chennai. "We are slated to open them by June 20," Sushil says.