Surrounded by lush green pine trees with a book in your hand and the warmth of some hot coffee down your throat sums up the idea of a perfect vacation. The only thing to be added into this perfect scene is a dash of exotic honey in your cuppa. To make sure that your palette receives this authentic taste and experience, Naipaul Singh Tomar, 53, a PhD in food technology, founded Honey Hut back in 2007.
The emerging café chain first started in Shimla, a popular hill station in Himachal Pradesh, selling fresh packaged honey and honey products along with other bakery items. The idea struck in 2000 and currently Honey Hut derives 75% of its revenue through in-house bakery products such as burgers, sandwiches, salads along with desserts such as honey chocolate fudge, honey pie, apple pie and others.
The remaining 25% comes through products such as honey, herbal teas, honey tonics, natural cream, moisturisers and beauty cleansers that are sold in the market. Quiz Tomar about the concept behind the café, he mentions, “I observed that our society was taking honey only as a cure and not as a diet. In fact, India's per capita consumption of honey is quite low.”
Even though the initial revenue from its first store in Shimla wasn't great, Tomar never thought of giving up on the business. And today, the company has expanded to around 11 stores across various locations, all of which make a profit. These include stores in tier-2 cities like Manali, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Haldwani, Ramnagar, Amritsar, Rishikesh, Jalandhar, Nainital and Mussoorie.
While till 2013, only six stores were opened, another six were added from 2013-2015 marking a jump in expansion. “Out of 11, six stores are company owned and the other five are franchisees,” says Gagan Anand, business head, Honey Hut. The store in Chandigarh hit break-even recently. “We get royalty from the ones in Manali, Ahmedabad, Haldwani, Ramnagar and Amritsar,” adds Anand. While the store in Shimla generates maximum revenue amounting to ₹72 lakh per annum, the others fall in the bracket of ₹29 lakh to ₹45 lakh per annum. Also, online and bulk sales generate about ₹14 lakh for the company.
Out of the hive