'We have implemented a rigorous system in India including strong values, high quality of products and special care for customers according to European standards'
In conversation with Kazem Samandari - Chairman - L'Opera
As I walked around I could feel the Eiffel Tower and L'Arc de Triomphe. I heard French, and smelt freshly brewed coffee. Taking it all in I walked towards the croissants, madeleines, and the main patisseries. I observed highly trained staff trying to make customers feel at home as if they were in Paris tasting real French delicacies. The complete entourage felt French and as I bit into the lemon tart I pinched myself. Was I in Paris or Delhi? As a connoisseur of French wine and food, I complimented L'Opera for the lemon tart and withheld myself from digging into other pastries. This was in 2011 when L'Opera opened their first outlet. Currently, in March 2015, they just have opened the 10th outlet. Talking about implementing change...
Ever since I have been a regular at L'Opera and am amazed by the French family and team behind it all. The co-founder and Manging Director, Laurent Samandari runs it along with his parents, Christine and Kazem Samandari. They formulated the idea in 2008. The seed was planted, watered with care, and it bloomed into a gorgeous flower. It required tremendous hard work and effort, but now L'Opera has ten outlets and is planning more in the near future. They like it here in India. 'We have implemented a rigorous system in India including strong values, high quality of products, and special care for customers according to European standards', said Kazem Samandari, Chairman L'Opera, as he sipped his home-made cappuccino. Kazem being the most experienced of them all, from a business, financial, and strategic perspective, added: 'We've never failed a single day. Every single day since our existence in India we've had everything in stock, everything in the shops with our staff ready to serve our customers. Change is part of our core business.'
The co-founder Laurent Samandari (Managing Director) and his mother Christine Samandari (Director) take care of the staff and training. Together they are the guardians of L'Opera's' decor, design, and art. Interestingly behind the Samandari's in Delhi are another 13 odd family members from across the world partaking in L'Operas' journey in India. L'Opera is managed by this extended family, a management team of 12, a French Executive Chef's, and over 130 employees.
Retailing involves two aspects commercial and manufacturing. Since they do both themselves they face no retailing restrictions. As Kazem proudly told me, they recently added tea, confitures (preserves) and homemade biscuits to their expanding list of products. Again an innovation which they implemented easily.
They face three constant challenges in implementing change in their organization. Firstly, how to manage different personality types and gear them toward the same direction, while utilizing their potential to the fullest as they believe and focus on teamwork and collaboration internally. Secondly, they must constantly strive to develop their brand, while keeping the environment, quality, approach, and profitability all intact. And last but not the least, how to make their extremely loyal employees feel like part-owners, enjoying what they do but accountable at the same time. Just like any other business, they too feel that embracing change is advancement and progress. If you don't, you stand still.