Indian brands should focus on marketing rather than just trading
Spearheading M.H. Enterprises, Mr. Chandrashekhar has been instrumental in actively sourcing and establishing many Indian brands in the UAE. Speaking to Indusfood, Chandrashekhar gives his key mantras for an extraordinary global journey to the Indian exporters and brands.
Owing to the soaring health awareness and changing global-food menus to fusion-food menu, he envisages an emerging trend of high quality and health food products under segments like Gourmet food, Organic, and Gluten-free–characterized by distinct flavor.
When asked about the impact MH Enterprises has experienced on its business on account of the COVID crisis, he reveals that his retail business is doing well and is less impacted as compared to his food service business and that he may focus more on catering the natives/residents as UAE has large number of Indian/Asian population thus suggesting a brighter phase for the Indian brands and exporters.
Mr. Chandrashekhar is very well known in the F&B industry and instrumental in actively sourcing and establishing many Indian brands like Godrej, WIPRO, ITC, Cavinkare, GoldWinner, Marico, Dabur and many more in the UAE. After leading well-known FMCG companies as Al Seer, which is part of the Spinneys- Dubai, for nearly 17 years and later as the Managing Director of Mondelez for Indo-China geography based out of Bangkok and Singapore.
Indusfood: When did M.H. Enterprises start its journey in the F&B industry? What has been your story?
Mr. Chandrashekhar: M.H. Group of Companies began the journey with the establishment of M.H. Enterprises in 1977, distributing food products in UAE. We deal with a wide range of leading global FMCG brands – both in Food and Non-Food categories. Today, the group has evolved and grown into a 1200+ strong workforce spread across UAE, Oman, Maldives and Seychelles.
Indusfood: Can you tell us more about your distribution network? Which major cities do you cater to?
Mr. Chandrashekhar: We have a predominant presence in the market place catering to all segments of businesses like Retail – Hypermarkets, Supermarkets, Groceries, Petromarts, Pharmacies, Wholesale, Exports and Food Service (HORECA) sectors throughout UAE, Oman and other GCC countries. Our distribution network covers UAE- Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Oman – all regions, Maldives and Seychelles.
We cater to all segments from Hypermarket to grocery/convenient stores/Grocery E commerce platform/Ethnic stores and all the channels of food services – Hotels /Café & Restaurant/Industrial-Inflight catering.
Indusfood: What is your key interest area – brands or pvt. labelling? Which Indian brands have you been working with and placed into the global modern trade?
Mr. Chandrashekhar: We have been working with many top-notch brands and Pvt. Labeling brands as well. We have successfully placed products of Indian brands like Dabur, Emami, Godrej- Toiletries, Gold Winner/Recon-Tez- Oil & Fats, Priya – Condiments-Spices/Pickle, Nirapara- Condiments-Spices/Pickle, Parley G- Biscuit/Snakes and Kohinoor- Rice on the global shelves.
Indusfood: What is your message to Indian brands attempting to carve a space for themselves in global modern trade? What marketing strategies should they adopt?
Mr. Chandrashekhar: In the Gulf region, where Indian export contributes in satiating a significant population of the region, Indian brand should come with more relevant portfolio and look at this as a marketing exercise rather than have a trading approach.
Indusfood: How do you see the global placement and growth in demand of the Indian food products in the near future?
Mr. Chandrashekhar: Indian brands have been received well both in the Food and Non-Food arena. From the food services point of view, there is an evolution of Gourmet food market, organic food product, gluten-free products which are characterized by distinct flavor, and high-quality products due to the soaring health awareness, changing food menus by operator which is now more of a fusion-food menu.
Indusfood: What has been the impact of the COVID crisis on your business?
Mr. Chandrashekhar: COVID-19 has had a drastic impact on the food services business as since the last three months all the tourist, leisure related activities have been suspended. On the other hand, retail business is doing well and is comparatively less impacted.
Indusfood: How can the retail sector and your business enhance customer experience while improving operational efficiency, amidst the pandemic?
Mr. Chandrashekhar: Ordering through digital platforms is one of the enhancing customer experiences enabling operation efficiency amidst the pandemic.
Indusfood: What can the Indian brands do to deal with new normal post-Covid?
Mr. Chandrashekhar: Even in the Post-Covid era, I believe, there will be less tourist inflow from global destinations thus, we may need to focus more to cater natives/residents. UAE has large number of Indian/Asian population and thus the prospects for Indian brands are much brighter.
Indusfood: What are your recent and upcoming procurement plans from India in particular?
Mr. Chandrashekhar: We procure a lot of food products from Indian brands which range from pure commodities like rice/spices to oil etc.
Indusfood: How do you see Indusfood as a growth platform?
Mr. Chandrashekhar: Indusfood can help us solicit established Indian FMCG brands across categories and also help us technologically. The show is a true platform and is very instrumental in taking Indian foods and brands across the globe. MH would like to be and happy to act as a brand ambassador of a show like Indusfood in the four countries that we are present in viz: UAE, Oman, Seychelles and Mauritius.