Rational, globally leading commercial combi-oven producing major from Germany, is celebrating its 10th anniversary in the India market in 2020. Speaking on the timeline of Rational’s presence in India, Vikram Goel, managing director, Rational International India, remarked that India was a new market about a decade ago and barely anybody knew of a combi-steamer technology when Rational paved its way in India. However, the time has passed; people here now are much aware of the contemporary global hospitality trends.
In line with the company’s core philosophy of customer benefit to develop the market, Goel said that Rational, for the past 10 years, has made people in the India market aware of the benefits of using combi-steamer technology through Rational CookingLive (RCL) – a 2-hour event conducted regularly at multiple locations. “Every kitchen in the world has some or the other kind of problem, from space constraint to labour to consistency. We at Rational try and identify the biggest problem in our customer’s kitchen and offer them a solution to it in our RCL event. We do this worldwide and have a presence in around 120 countries. This process has been successfully transplanted in India too,” he said.
Being the first employee at Rational India, Goel, joined the company as a sales manager. He reminisced that, over the years, while he witnessed the growth of the company in India registering 30 per cent growth year on year, the key challenges that the company faced were, making the customers aware about this new technology and also the adaptability of the equipment to produce Indian delicacies.
When asked about the technological innovation that Rational has introduced in the India market to add to the chef’s convenience here, Goel said, “Our product has evolved a lot from the one first developed in 1976, although it was not so advanced as the existing one, but it was the first time that with our initial product, the industry had seen a combination of steam and dry heat being used together. We regularly keep adding innovations into the product and make it better for the customers. We have over 1000 chefs working with us worldwide to try and understand each region’s requirements and address the same. In 2004, we were the first to introduce touch panels with SelfCookingCenter. Then in 2008, we introduced automatic cleaning technology in our combi-ovens, which was again a first in the industry. Later in 2014, we had the SelfCookingCenter 5 Senses. This unit senses, recognises, learns, thinks ahead and communicates with its user. In 2016, we launched our smallest unit XS. The last innovation that happened was ‘ConnectedCooking’, in which the chefs can virtually access and monitor their unit right from their smartphones and laptops without being physically present near the unit. The innovation keeps continuing at Rational, so that we make our products better with each generation that we introduce.”
Noting the key clientele for Rational’s products, Goel noted, “Our business is primarily, over 60 per cent, in restaurant space i.e. casual dining, cafes. 10 per cent of our business is in hotels. Catering too is a big segment for us. Almost over 20 per cent of our business share is in the catering segment which also includes dark/cloud kitchens now. The trend in the market also is slowly changing with a lot of restaurants popping up across the country which wasn’t the case a couple of years ago.”
He added that Rational products are ideal for the Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) segment as they address various parameters like standardisation of food; efficient space management; high efficiency and idiot-proof units to avoid employing a lot of skilled human labour, hence keeping the opex efficient.
In India, Rational primarily focuses on the metro cities, informed Goel. “We have our HQ based in Gurgaon and satellite presence in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad. About the future roadmap, we would continue to go deeper into the existing markets that we are present in. If you look at our market capitalisation it is only 15 per cent and there is a huge scope for us to get a lot of business from our core