Companies &Industries

READY CUISINE

Local enterprise adds spice to the Pret a manger model

BY AAMERA JIWAJI

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Esmeralda De Souza and Spencer Fondaumiere, two of the directors of The Good Food Company

he Good Food Company, Kenya’s venture into the internationally celebrated Pret a Manger concept, is designed to satisfy in a modern society where instant gratification in a healthy and affordable way - is the flavour of the day. The concept of Pret a Manger was developed in 1983 in London when Jeffrey Hyman opened the first Pret a Manger. Coined from the fashion phrase Pret a Porter (ready to wear), Pret a Manger (ready to eat) prepares gourmet food in a ready to eat format and the idea took the British consumer market by storm. Today, the original Pret a Manger chain currently operates 294 outlets globally, and the approach gained more acclaim when retail British stores like Marks & Spencers and Wool-

worths embraced the idea and began selling fresh, ready made meals at outlets across the country. Kenya’s The Good Food Company, which began trading in Nairobi in July last year, has adopted the concept and tweaked it to suit the Kenyan market. Co-owned by innovative entrepreneurs Esmeralda De Souza, Spencer Fondaumiere, Kiran Jethwa and Nawaz Meghji, the good food aficionados combined their knowledge of the gastronomical industry, and decided the Kenyan market was primed for the Pret a Manger concept. With their eye keenly trained on fresh products that were healthy, easily made and delicious, they prioritised the development of a strong and sophisticated brand. Spencer and Esmerald together own an outside catering business in Karen called Spez,

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“Our food is a la carte, which means it is freshly made when you place an order, and it takes between three to six minutes to make each meal. That’s why it tastes amazing,” Esmerelda said with a smile.

The Good Food Company runs a full industrial kitchen in Nairobi’s Industrial Area, and invested a substantial percentage of their start-up capital on branded packaging material.

while Kiran and Nawaz are proprietors of Seven seafood and grill restaurant at ABC Place. Kiran and Spencer, the two chefs among the business owners, developed recipes cutting across a range of international cuisines including Asian, Oriental, Italian and Kenyan, and targeted the Nairobi lunch crowd with an offering of salads, sandwiches, wraps, bloomers (subs) and hot meals. Two years of strategising later, the four invested Sh8million into the idea (spent mainly on equipment and packaging), and opened a full industrial kitchen of 3,000 square feet in Nairobi’s Industrial area to serve the city and its environs. Orders can be called, emailed or texted in every weekday and the meal will be delivered in between 45 minutes to an hour through to 4.30pm in the evening. “Our food is a la carte, which means it is

freshly made when you place an order, and it takes between three to six minutes to make each meal. That’s why it tastes amazing,” Esmeralda said with a smile. Having run a catering business with Spencer for over five years, Esmeralda was able to replicate many of its best practices to The Good Food Company. “It’s a similar product, it’s food,” she said. “So the principles of running both companies is the same: a good product, excellent service and on time delivery.” All three of these are strengthened, she said, by a good relationship with reliable suppliers who offer high quality raw materials. One of the greatest challenges, however, has been convincing the Kenyan market to embrace a healthy food option which pulls away from usual lunch habits, and is priced slightly higher.

“Most Kenyans like going for chips and chicken, but our menu offers a convenient, full meal in a packet as opposed to your usual junk food over lunch,” said the 26 year old Esmeralda. Items on The Good Food Company menu range from Sh400 (sandwiches) to Sh650 (for a hot meal) with bloomers and salads falling mid way - as compared to a typical Kenyan fast food lunch of between Sh200 to Sh300. At present, The Good Food Company’s monthly sales are at 200 meals a day, well below their target of 5,000 meals a day, but Esmeralda is confident about their growth. They plan to introduce breakfast options like sandwiches to cater for clients who want something to eat mid morning. Other growth avenues the company is looking at include setting up kiosk style outlets at key locations, which offer the same fresh quality food on a nearby corner.
February Nairobi Business Monthly |