“One cannot think well, love well and sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
– Virginia Wolf
Those particular about the quality of food as well as how it is presented, will tell you the story of a cookware brand called Le Creuset founded in 1925 in France by two Belgian industrialists – Armand Desaegher and Octave Aubecq. They introduced the Le Creuset Cocotte (French Oven), which to date has remained their most popular piece. A few years later with their new found ability to pigment the enamel glaze, Desaegher and Aubecq modelled their first signature colour, Flame Orange, which went on to become the colour of Le Creuset.
“Interview with Ankur Damani – Country Head at Le Creuset”
-By Supriya Samuel
Many designs and colours later, the brand not only expanded its market, but also started a trend of becoming an essential piece of cookware in many kitchens. Le Creuset is best known for its durability and its availability in a wide range of colours. Its new signature cast iron range is truly versatile and includes a variety of cookware such as casseroles, pans, grills and dishes.
Today, Le Creuset is sold in over 60 countries around the world. It entered the Indian market in 2007 and has been expanding rapidly ever since. We caught up with Mr. Ankur Damani, Country Head, India and SAARC on the new range of cookware and the plans of Le Creuset for the Indian market.
How has the brand performed since its launch in India?
After becoming one of the first four brands to secure the single brand FDI license for retailing in India, we opened our first ‘company-owned retail store’ in February 2014. The response has been phenomenal in the Horeca segment, with most premium hotel chains using Le Creuset products. The response to the retail stores has been great, and it is extremely encouraging to see many consumers becoming aware of the brand and using our products for years now, having bought them from other countries in the past.
India is one of the fastest growing markets for Le Creuset globally. We have already opened 6 stores in Delhi-NCR, Mumbai and Bangalore & are happy to share that the brand has been well received. Le Creuset plans to open more stores across metropolitan cities like Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Pune in the near future.
Tell us more about the new signature cast iron range?
The new signature range is truly versatile and includes a wide variety of cookware such as casseroles, pans, grills and much more, available across a wide range of colors. The signature cast iron cookware is made with a remarkable and robust material that performs well with the modern requirements of food. The most enticing feature of the range, its “lifetime guarantee”, makes it essential for every household. This updated kitchen classic features a range of new design enhancements specially developed to offer better durability, versatility and comfort of use while cooking. Other features of the range include a new easy clean, toughened enamel interior, increased durability, resistance to chipping, staining and dulling, new Easy-Grip with 45% larger handles for a better grip designed to distribute weight more evenly,
new enhanced tight fitting lid, built-in stabilizers to provide a more secure fit whilst enhanced rings and design provide added beauty, and last but not the least, a stylish heat resistant stainless steel knob that
withstands any oven temperature.
What has made the Indian market a profitable target for the brand?
Extravagance and luxury in India is growing exponentially, moving from fashion to the living room and now to the kitchen. Moreover, the food and cooking landscape has undergone a massive transformation
– cooking has become a hobby and a passion. People resorting to healthy food habits, experimenting with global cuisines, hosting house parties, staging open kitchens, all make Le Creuset extremely pertinent in the Indian setting. The brand has the highest quality standards and offers a lifetime guarantee, which makes it a one-time investment, and caters to the health and quality conscious customer.
How has your journey been with Le Creuset?
It has been an absolute pleasure to be associated with a celebrated brand like Le Creuset, which is the best in the world in its category, and has a legacy dating back to 1925. The 4-year journey has been more than enriching from securing the brand in retail via FDI in the single-brand retail route, to opening 6 stores in the best Malls across India and replicating the wonderful Le Creuset experience within the country. Le Creuset has a very open culture, and cultivates innovation and creativity, especially with immense freedom to implement ideas locally, relevant for each market. Such independence is very motivating and impactful to each and every market.
Does the colorful range cater to the traditional Indian Style of cooking which involves a lot of roasting and frying of spices?
The beauty of Le Creuset products is that they are very versatile and apt for cooking different cuisines, and are compatible with different heat sources. Le Creuset cast iron cookware is ideal for Indian cooking as it is based on the concept of slow cooking, using less oil and water, cooking food evenly and not only retaining nutrients, but also bringing out the best flavours of Indian spices. In fact, many celebrity and renowned Indian chefs swear by Le Creuset products for cooking Indian cuisine and the colourful products add vibrancy and grandeur to the table
Tell us more about Le Creuset’s other range of Cast Iron cookware?
Le Creuset’s cast iron products are a once in a lifetime investment as they can be used over generations and we proudly offer a lifetime guarantee on the cast iron range. They are also the lightest in the world Cast iron is the best material that can be used when it comes to flavoursome and healthy cooking. It relies on the concept of cooking on low to medium heat settings thereby retaining the nutritious quality of the food. It also reduces the use of oil and water which adds health benefits.
The method of cooking in slow to medium heat decreases the possibility of burning your food and the even thickness of the Le Creuset products prevents food from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Cast iron’s heat retention properties, locking in flavor and keeping food moist and tender, makes it an ideal pick. The material is just perfect for a stylish presentation, and keeps additional portions warm until ready to serve. Since the product lasts for generations, it makes the buy easy on the pocket eventually.
How are the products priced and what is the longevity of the new signature cast iron range?
Our signature cast iron range starts from INR 9,000/. Le Creuset offers a lifetime guarantee on its signature cast iron collection like the previous Classic range, however, the new look and features make the product more stylish with additional benefits.
Considering how modern kitchens are incorporating more and more technology, does the product cater to newer cooking techniques?
Innovation and technology are at the core of Le Creuset. Our products are so advanced and superior in terms of quality and technology, that none of our competitors are even close to them. Le Creuset produces more than 100 colours, while competition put together does not add up to this. Our product is the lightest and best in terms of quality and we boast of giving a lifetime guarantee on cast iron and even on our stainless steel and non-stick range. Our products are very versatile; they can be used on all heat sources, to cook different types of cuisines, and they support modern technologies and the techniques being evolved to cook with them