We will Continue Aggressive Expansion in Mumbai and Pune: Aayush Agrawal, Director Lenexis Foodworks

Aayush Agrawal, Director of Lenexis Foodworks shared excerpts about the steady success the brand has received with having expanded to 35 company owned & operated outlets in both the cities in just three years


WITH THE rising popularity of Pan-Asian food across the length and breadth of India, the potential for branded Asian food QSR has been on an upsurge. Perceiving this potential Lenexis Foodworks launched their Pan-Asian QSR brand Wok Express in Mumbai and Pune markets in 2015. Aayush Agrawal, Director of Lenexis Foodworks shared excerpts about the steady success the brand has received with having expanded to 35 company owned & operated outlets in both the cities in just three years. BW Hotelier reports…

What void did you see that existed in the market for which you ideated to start A Pan-Asian food serving QSR brand?

Aayush Agrawal: When I was exploring the idea of a food start-up, I realised that QSR as a segment predominantly has all players where their primary ingredient is Bread. Chinese is the second most loved cuisine in India. We saw a gap for it in the organised QSR space and hence decided to launch Wok Express. We started with just Chinese Rice and Noodle Bowls – Wok & as per the market demand, we expanded our menu which today boasts of dumplings, baos, traditional appetizers and mains at pocket-friendly prices.

With 20 outlets opened since August 2017, now summing up to a total of 35 outlets in Mumbai and Pune, what USPs marked Wok Express’ expansion in such a brief period of time?

AA: As mentioned earlier Chinese is the second most loved cuisine in India. The potential for a branded Asian food QSR is huge. However Chinese Rice and Noodles Bowl – Wok, as a category, is at a very nascent stage. We are in the process of building this category, educating customers about what a wok is, by using relatable terminologies like Chinese Rice and Noodle Bowls. We are keeping it extremely affordable at a starting price point of INR 55 to reach out to every individual, family, collegians and working professionals as we consider all of them to be our potential customers.

Which business model are you currently looking for expansion and the key cities on your radar currently? What potential do you see from the Tier-II &Tier-III cities market?

AA: All our outlets are company owned and operated. We work on both Dine-in and delivery models. We will continue to aggressively penetrate our reach in the cities of Mumbai and Pune. We are also looking for Bangalore, Hyderabad and New Delhi as key cities in the next two years. There is enormous customer base in Tier-II & Tier-III markets and projected return on investment is high. We would, however, like to popularise the concept in leading metros before foraying into newer markets.

The well-travelled guests now are very selective about their foods and also need gourmet experiences? What efforts do you take in R&D of the menu to cater to the varied palate of Indian visitors desiring authentic cuisines from length and breadth of Pan Asia?

AA: Pan Asian foods from various regions offer varied taste perceptions and each has a distinctive cooking format. Consumers today are well aware of international flavours and want to experience

wholesome ingredients. We conduct focus groups to determine feasibility and test market our food concepts before rolling out our menu. We incorporate exotic flavours, authentic spices, myriad of sausages and herbs to meet consumer preferences. Our menu predominantly includes Thai, Chinese, Japanese & Burmese food served in QSR format.

Who has been the key market i.e. Corporates, Residential patrons, etc., for Wok Express? What channels and promotional activities are you considering to further increase brand recall?

AA: We target a wider audience that includes individuals, family, collegians and working professionals. We target a communication mix of print advertising, radio FM, social media promotions and digital media optimisation to reach out to our audience.

What value additions are you bringing to the brand in terms of the newer format of a restaurant, new menu, etc.?

AA: High Street and Food Court are the two formats across which our restaurants are spread. We have just launched our third format which is a dark kitchen. We periodically review our menu and make changes to it as per customer feedback and market trend. Across all our outlets, we have ensured that we have a standard mood which is well-lit, bright and lively.

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