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Star Tech: Locale makes debut as UAE’s first food aggregator

Locale ims to create a community for local ‘foodpreneurs’ to sell their goods and have their brands flourish



by

Joydeep Sengupta

Published: Sat 26 Feb 2022, 11:49 PM

Locale is the UAE’s first food aggregator with a heart, and it aims to create a community for local ‘foodpreneurs’ to sell their goods and have their brands flourish.

The concept was launched at Dubai Caterer Middle East in January.

It has brought another great brand under its wing, Viking Bageri, a homegrown artisanal baguette bakery that offers a mix of sweet and savoury baked offerings.

The ‘foodpreneur-focussed ecosystem’ platform by KRUSH Brands looks to champion homegrown businesses and provide them with resources to become more resilient and fully owning their customer relationship with proprietary technology and delivery science, seamlessly integrated with brand and operations.

Ohan spent most of his early professional career in North America and the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region in the real estate and hospitality investment and development markets. He has held leadership positions at companies such as KPMG, Arthur Andersen and Al Futtaim Investments.

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“My unplanned departure from my early career ambitions saw me pursue a senior position with Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts where I began my career in operations. It was only in 2004 that I launched my entrepreneurial journey and joined two partners in a real estate and hospitality investment services startup (that was acquired by Jones Lang LaSalle). In 2009, I returned to my roots in food and beverage and started what is today known as Freedom Pizza, which has grown to become KRUSH Brands and Locale,” he said.

“When I first got into entrepreneurship, the primary challenge was gathering the courage to abandon the security of a generous executive compensation and an upward career trajectory. As with all startups, the challenges were numerous, and a significant one was having to grow and manage a company from three to over 40 people in a short period. It was a transition from working within a well-defined and comprehensive corporate environment to being responsible for all aspects of the business, whilst still observing vision and leadership.

“Learning when and how to ‘swoop and ‘soar’ was a key learning,” he said.

The concept

“Locale is an economically sustainable ecosystem for innovative foodpreneurs to thrive and reconnect with the communities in which they operate. For foodpreneurs, Locale is a fully comprehensive platform that we initially built for our own brands (Freedom Pizza, Salad Jar, Wildflower Poke, Coco Yogo and Vegan Kitchen), that combines our own food technology, brands and our professional and proprietary delivery capabilities. For customers, Locale features a highly curated group of loved and likeminded food brands, and has the capability of offering them 20 unique, individual brands to experience. Locale is not about making money on delivery, technology, advertising nor fees (our objective is to minimise these costs for all). Locale is about making money on great food,” he said.

Unearthing new foodpreneurs

Ohan said: “Locale’s differentiated proposition of true partnership and bottom-line focussed economic alignment has been well received in the foodpreneur market.  The foodie community is a tight-knit group that is looking for a smarter way to grow and scale businesses. Our fully integrated business model is designed to be highly profitable for foodpreneurs, whilst also providing attractive multi-kitchen and company-wide economics. Having only 20 great brands in Locale allows us to be highly selective. At the heart of our decision-making process is the alignment of values with potential partners that focus on excellent food, a fanatical approach to customers and the development of people. Locale is partnering with a range of amazing people from accomplished (or new) chefs who want to have ownership and stewardship of a new venture, to established quality brands who care about the integrity of their brands, service quality and professional delivery.

According to Ohan, Locale is the only true alternative to the third-party delivery ecosystem.

“It’s true partnership model frees us to enthusiastically apply the full breadth of our capabilities to our partners. In short, we treat them as our own. For the foodpreneur, this means that we pay for all upfront capital investments for the brand in our multi-kitchens, and provide them with our food technology platforms, and proprietary and professional delivery teams. Locale partner brands are also included in the exclusive Locale marketplace, as well as having their own direct online web-ordering presence. In addition, partners are also supported by Locale’s comprehensive in-house corporate team and resources, including human resources, business licensing, learning & development, operations, finance and accounting, technology, design & development, franchising as well as our extraordinary in-house brand and marketing agency. As partners we also co-invest to grow the brands, and we hope that all our partner brands grow with Locale and beyond in the fulfilment of their unique and individual ambitions and destinies. Great brands are built by great people,” he added.

Latest acquisition

“We did not acquire Viking Bageri, we became equity partners. The highpoint is unquestionably the product. Viking Bageri quite simply makes the best baguette I have ever tried, anywhere, period. When you couple this with our unique ability to deliver the baguettes straight from the oven to your door, we’re on to something special for bread lovers everywhere. On a more personal level, we are truly grateful to Viking’s amazing founders for their trust, commitment and partnership as early adopters and believers in Locale. They help us to be better, together. It is all about the journey and we are just at the beginning,” he added.

Ohan believes that Locale has a place in any community that appreciates good food, good people and good ideas. So, an expansion in the wider Mena region is in the offing, because Locale is a brilliant entrepreneurial idea, whose time has come.


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