'Phoolwalas to cakewallahs': Delhi's Ferns N Petals is ready for the next bloom

'Phoolwalas to cakewallahs': Delhi's Ferns N Petals is ready for the next bloom

Founded 30 years ago, Ferns N Petals today covers everything from weddings to funerals – and after being the country’s largest flower sellers they are now poised to rediscover themselves as cake makers with FNP Cakes.

Say it with flowers: FNP's journey over years Say it with flowers: FNP's journey over years

The next gen celebrates everything, they like to normalise experiences, and cakes are often the high point of these celebrations. Three decades-old florist chain, Ferns N Petals (FNP), now wants to shape its business to woo gen next and you will get to see the brand’s presence in gifts and cakes more than flower bouquets.

“The twenty-something of today celebrates everything – even breakups. They recognise small moments in life and validate them and often these are done over cakes. Flowers in India are usually popular during Valentines’ Day or maybe during the wedding-season but the flowers still are looked at as a luxury. Unlike the West, the Indian middle class finds spending on something expensive, but perishable as a waste. But cakes are something people eat, and people freely buy them. We are thus, slowly going to be doing more and more cakes in our new avatar as Ferns N Petals gets rebranded as FNP,” Anil Sharma, COO of Retail and Franchising Ferns N Petals (FNP) told Business Today. FNP’s projected turnover for FY 23 is Rs 1,000 cr. FNP Cakes currently has over 160 stores and intends to become one of the largest confectionary brands of India in the next 3 years.

Flowers, birds and bees

A floral journey of 3 decades  

It all started 30 years ago when Vikaas Gutgutia, Founder MD, Ferns N Petals (FNP) decided to open an air-conditioned shop in Delhi’s South Extension. The upkeep and expense of running the shop were so high, Gutgutia slipped into debt and suffered continuous financial losses for seven years until he decided to go into a franchise model. The chain caught the fancy of people fast as Gutgutia says many people decided to “gift a florist business” to their wives. Today 40 per cent of FNP shops are run by women. FNP has over 400 outlets in over 150 cities across the country, and receives 10,000 orders in a day, of which 1,200 orders per day are serviced between UAE and Singapore.

Flowers are always right 

“Flowers are never wrong for any occasion. It’s about gifting cheerfulness. While we have given some connotation to flowers with reference to their colours, largely, flowers are just pure joy, they cheer you up. I realised that we do have a lot of flowers in our culture, but the only florists we had at that time was the road-corner guy selling from a stand and there was space for selling good ornamental flowers. It was a crazy idea at that time, but we did it. Today we source flowers from all over the world and sell them all over the world as well,” said Gutgutia. India’s overall gifting industry today is approximately estimated between Rs 40,000- 50,000 cr. FNP has clocked a turnover of Rs 700 cr last year. The brand has declared a 43 per cent YOY growth with a revenue split of 60 percent online and 40 per cent offline sales.

A box of roses

Last Journey

Flowers and cakes can go where nothing else can as they bring comfort. “Just as there are weddings and births, there are also breakups and funerals – flowers also have a part in these. We curate funerals and during the pandemic our Last Journey service was of great help for such people who live abroad and who may have lost their parents back in India. Breakups and divorces too can be validated with sympathy cards and cakes, we are changing ourselves and our businesses with the changing realities of the time," Gutgutia said.

Phoolwallahs to cakewallahs

The ease of selling cakes, and the high demand for cakes are reasons driving the next level of growth for FNP. “Cakes become the high point of any celebration. People gather around it, clap, click pictures and share on social media. Cakes are fast replacing the custom of sweet distribution as well. Who knows we will soon have rasmalai cakes or gulab jamun cakes?” Anil Sharma says. Cakes surely is the way forward for FNP. “So far we were phoolwalas, now we want to become cakewallahs,” says Gutgutia. FNP Cakes currently bakes 3,000 cakes each day. The FNP stores across India too are at present getting a makeover to accommodate its new avatar.

You can never go wrong with flowers

New horizons 

FNP entered the UAE market in 2015 and has a prominent presence in the Middle East. It now wants to expand in Tier II and III cities of India and plans to open 100 stores in the current fiscal locations. While already present in Panipat, Kozhikode, Gorakhpur, Kanpur, Lucknow, Bhilai, Ranchi, Chhattisgarh, and Surat, you will get to see FNP stores in Bodhgaya, Dibrugarh, Purnia and more such cities. Overseas Indians contribute close to one-fourth of FNP's topline. Early adopters as they are, FNP doesn’t advertise its business and mostly operates through search engine responses with a strong social media play.

What will not change? 

The nature of its business, the locations, and how its products and services will be delivered are all dynamic as FNP believes in continuous improvement. Gutgutia says, “Whatever we do, we will always be profitable, we will always remain debt free”.