Taiwan-based ghost kitchen operator and virtual brand creator JustKitchen will enter India under a new agreement to bring its virtual brands to the unique market.
The company will partner with Kitchens Centre, a ghost kitchen operator that bills itself as a KaaS (Kitchen as a Service). It’s the largest shared kitchen space provider in India with more than 1,000 kitchens across 80 locations in 25 cities. CEO Lakshay Jain of Kitchens Centre said the company will integrate JustKitchen’s 32 brands into kitchens that already operate more than 350 brands.
“We are thrilled to partner with JustKitchen to quickly ramp up its presence in all tier-one cities in India within the year. With great recipe development capabilities by both Kitchens Centre and JustKitchen’s culinary team, specialized ghost kitchen SOPs, and wonderful customer experience,” said Jain. “We are confident that JustKitchen’s brands will be an instant hit in the country.”
JustKitchen cofounder and CEO Jason Chen said he’s excited to see the company brands find new markets under the company mission “to connect the world’s deliciousness (food or drink) to its people, anytime, anywhere!”
To follow that mission, he said it was essential to localize the brands and find a great local partner. That’s an important lesson for other brands looking to expand their traditional or virtual presence to new international markets.
“India is one of the most distinctive countries in taste, habit and most importantly culture. Yet at a time of digital conveniences and globalization of foods, a service provider like ourselves must be aware of the religious and cultural dietary needs, and localize,” said Chen.
That meant tweaking many of his brands to include more vegetarian offerings, and changing the ingredients to match Indian flavor profiles. At the same time, it was important to keep the brands in tact to meet the consumer demand for authentic international cuisine. It’s a tricky tightrope to walk, but Kitchen Centre was helpful with those tweaks and key to understanding and meeting the unique demands of the Indian delivery consumer.
“I believe that understanding the needs of the consumer is the single most important thing for food delivery. For example, India has a century-old system of “Dabbawala,” which are lunchboxes that are delivered to people at work, and containers returned and reused. It is not the ordinary delivery method that is familiar in other parts of the world,” said Chen. “Therefore, localization is extremely important. This is the main reason why, after much study, we are fortunate to work with our local partner Kitchen Centre to meet the needs of local demand.”
He said the partnership goes both ways, Kitchen Centre gets access to the 32 JustKitchen brands and Chen anticipates bringing some “local heroes” from the Indian market to his customers across Southeast Asia, bringing authentic international cuisine to both countries and eager consumers.
He said there are a number of brands he expects to thrive as the phased rollout goes from current tests to match local demand over the next 12 months. His best bets are InLuck Taiwanese, DJ Khaled’s Another Wing, Friday’s Go, Chili House Schezwan and ThaiHi.
As the brands roll out across India, Chen said he’ll be watching revenue growth, adoption, customer ratings and customer retention to continue guiding the Indian expansion.