Foddies' mission is to unite and bring people together through freedom of food choices.
Luke Lucas, managing partner of the specialty food brand Foddies, discussed the brand's outlook and plans this 2018.
Foddies is a specialty food brand that produces a range of LoFo (Low FODMAP), gluten free and other allergy-friendly food. Its owners also own and operate a cafe/retail store and donut store in Melbourne. It currently has two stores, with another one set to open on Camberwell this May.
QSR Media: What was the inspiration behind the creation of Foddies brand?
Foddies was created by myself and my partner Chrissy as a result of our personal experiences living with stomach issues. I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Chrissy has Fructose Malabsorption and Lactose Intolerance. When we were dating, it was really difficult for us to find somewhere where we could safely eat and enjoy each other’s company. So we decided to do something about it!
QSR Media: How has been the customer reception with the Low FODMAP restaurant concept so far?
The reception has been great so far! We not only have people travelling from all over Melbourne to visit us, we also have people travelling from regional Victoria, interstate and even from overseas. We’ve had a couple from New Zealand who had a wedding in Melbourne and caught an earlier flight to come and eat with us. We’ve had people from the US come through complaining about the lack of options over there. We had a group book a table while they were in England for the Christmas period. We even had someone from Norway who could barely speak English and took 3 days to find our café!
QSR Media: What have you learned since the launch of this concept?
The learning curve has been very steep for us because neither of us had any industry experience: my background was in corporate finance and Chrissy was a registered nurse. We’d never even worked in a café much less run a food business!
We’ve learnt so much:
The saying ‘location, location, location’ isn’t just lip service! Finding reliable, quality suppliers is an ongoing challenge, as well as finding good quality people. Margins are attractive in hospitality but without volume they’re meaningless.
You need to do more than simply serve good food and coffee these days: branding, plating, store fitouts, etc are crucial. Capex requirements are huge and can really hold back your business and managing cash flow is crucial.
QSR Media: What’s your outlook for the brand given it's a niche offering?
Yes, we are in a niche market, but our vision is to be the largest specialty food brand in the world. To make that happen, we’re doing more than just a retail presence. We also offer a range of Foddies-branded packaged products – both frozen and ambient – which are available for sale in our retail stores and for home-delivery across Metropolitan Melbourne.
We also wholesale a number of these products across over 100 stockists in Melbourne, Adelaide and just recently we entered Perth.
Finally, once we’re settled, we want to move into food service as well and supply Airlines, Cruise Ships, Hospitals, Aged Care Facilities with options for their clients/patients given the current offerings generally leave a lot to be desired!
Operating all of these divisions under the one umbrella and taking the model global will, we believe, allow us to realise our vision.
QSR Media: Any big plans for the year?
We’re a couple of weeks away from opening our third store, in Camberwell, which is really exciting for us and our fans and followers. We’re also currently looking at upsizing our production facility as we’re bulging at the seams where we are. With the additional space, we expect our production capacity to increase dramatically which means we’ll be able to offer more products in more states. We’ll also be able to seriously look at exporting towards the end of the year.
Depending on how we go, we’d also be looking at another store by the end of this year or early 2019. 2018 will be a big year for us!
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