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Rebel eyes offline food services market with food court format

Rebel Foods has a network of strong cloud kitchen brands such as Faasos, Behrouz Biryani and Ovenstory Pizza. (Photo: Bloomberg)Premium
Rebel Foods has a network of strong cloud kitchen brands such as Faasos, Behrouz Biryani and Ovenstory Pizza. (Photo: Bloomberg)

  • Rebel Foods started out as a single brand QSR chain Faasos before moving to the cloud kitchen format in 2014. However, market dynamics have since changed, helped in part by the popularity of food ordering apps that offer both convenience and variety to consumers

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NEW DELHI: Cloud kitchens operator Rebel Foods, that turned a unicorn earlier this week, is now eyeing the unorganised food court market with plans to open 50-100 outlets across the country’s highways, airports and office locations. The food courts will house at least a dozen brands owned by Rebel Foods.

After establishing its roots in the online space with a network of strong cloud kitchen brands such as Faasos, Behrouz Biryani and Ovenstory Pizza, the company plans to build a network in the physical food services retail market.

"We're looking at high walk-in locations. The plan would be to scale this up to about 50-100 stores, at least over the next 12 months to 24 months. And, obviously, this can fast track depending on consumer response," Sagar Kochhar, co-founder, Rebel Foods told Mint in an interview.

Rebel Foods became a unicorn this week after securing $175 million in a funding round led by the sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority. The round, which valued the start-up at $1.4 billion, also saw participation from existing investors Coatue and Evolvence.

Rebel Foods operates a large number of internet restaurants worldwide. Its ecosystem comprises over 45 brands - owned as well as partner brands such as Natural’s ice-cream and Mad Over Donuts.

In all, it operates over 4,000 internet restaurants in 10 countries selling everything from biryani, coffee to desserts. Last year it won a contract to help fast food chain Wendy’s expand its virtual kitchens in India.

Fresh funding will be used to expand its international footprint, improve its technology stack and add more brands to its portfolio, the company said in its fund-raising announcement.

Rebel’s foray into physical outlets isn’t exactly new. The company started out as a single brand QSR chain Faasos before moving to the cloud kitchen format in 2014. However, market dynamics have since changed, helped in part by the popularity of food ordering apps that offer both convenience and variety to consumers.

The pandemic has only accelerated consumer adoption of all things tech.

The first such food court opened up on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway last month. EatSure, as the food court is called, will serve food from biryani to pizza and from cakes to coffee. The food courts will house 8-10 brands that will include in-house brands and third party brands that use the company’s Rebel Launcher platform to enable their cloud kitchen operations.

The move comes as governments ease covid-led restrictions and consumers step out to meet friends and resume working from office.

The past 18 months have helped boost demand for home deliveries as convenience drove consumers to order home everything from food to groceries. 

Kochhar said the power of offline can't be denied. “Convenience is great—you will end up ordering a lot of times, but there are times when you step out, you will visit a mall, travel across airports or on expressways. So, the offline play here to stay." 

The company will take long leases in large spaces as it opens such outlets.

Food courts are typically found in malls, airports or even highways offering variety and access to consumers. However, the country does not have a pan-India food court operator. That’s because operators typically invite restaurants to take up space within their food court and start selling food.

“What we are saying here is that with the power of the Rebel operating system, the power of our multiple brands that we have—including our own brands and launcher brands—and the fact that under the same umbrella of EatSure we are able to enable all of this in a very digital first way," he said.

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