Cake firm rides on unique flavours to drive growth


Cake City Ltd CEO Mr Mohammed Zahir. PHOTO | POOL

Cake City is making a mark in the world of cakes driven by its alacrity in meeting customers’ changing needs.

Mohammed Zahir, Cake City chief executive, tells Enterprise that Kenyans are now more interested in sophisticated and luxurious cakes that the company has been striving to meet.

He notes that the demand for reality cakes especially has risen exponentially, helped by the internet.

“We recently got a client who wanted a dog cake. It was the family dog’s birthday, and they wanted us to make a cake that replicated their dog. We got the job done,” said Mr Zahir.

The entrepreneur noted that the explosion of social media has led to the evolution of cakes in Kenya and worldwide.

According to Mr Zahir, people no longer order cakes to not only eat but to also show off on their social media platforms, leading to the demand for more sophisticated cakes.

“That’s why the demand for reality cakes, in particular, has grown as people want to outdo their peers. People want cakes that replicate the things they treasure most,” he said.

Birthday and wedding cakes, he says, are no longer what they used to be.

Families, he says buy their children cakes that replicate their favourite cartoon characters, while couples use their cakes to tell their love stories.

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Baby showers and gender reveal parties have also been popularised by social media, which has also led to increased demand for cakes.

“We get so many people who come to our shops wanting cakes that look like those posted on Instagram. This is good for us since it also helps us improve our service offering,” he says.

And it is not just individuals; corporates have also joined the bandwagon.

Companies, big and small, he notes, are using cakes to celebrate all sorts of events, which is creating big business for them.

Cake City currently works with brands such as Kenya Airways, Mastercard, Jubilee Holdings, DHL and Safaricom.

Cake City was started in 2012 in Westlands, Nairobi by Hasnain Noorani, the founder and owner of PrideInn Hotels, Resorts and Camps.

While travelling across the world for business, Mr Noorani sampled various foods, desserts and cake flavours. This is when the idea of a business focusing on cakes hit.

The new cake flavours he had spotted include Milky Caramel, Chocochip, Fresh fruit cake, American Fruit cake which are now signature products. The businessman did not want to focus on the common brands such as Black Forest and buttercream chocolate cakes.

The first branch in Westlands is now operating as Cake City’s flagship branch.

“We identified a gap in luxury cakes. Bakers were only making basic cakes and their flavours were very singular. We wanted to change that,” said Mr Zahir.

The company that was started with Sh 5million has since grown to eight branches in Nairobi, with more plans to open more branches around the country.

The company has about 60 workers spread across all its branches. When it opened its doors it had eight employees.

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Mr Zahir says the company now has a monthly turnover of Sh10 million and bakes an average of 5,000 kilograms of cakes every month.

“We have managed to grow our business in the last one decade courtesy of hard work from our workers,” he says.

On a good day, Mr Zahir says the firm can sell up to 100 cakes, especially during the festive season. Their cakes are sold at between Sh2,200 and Sh3,000 a kilo.

August and December are the high seasons for the business with low months being January, February and March.

Despite cementing its top position in the cakes space, the firm faces a number. The biggest hurdle so far has been dealing with the high rate of inflation.

Kenya’s inflation hit a 27-month high in May on the back of a jump in the price of essential items like cooking oil, food, fuel and soap, squeezing household budgets and demand for goods and services.

“The cost of most of our ingredients shot up. From wheat flour, cooking oil and the flavours we use, everything seemed to go up. Logistics has also been a major hurdle, mostly because of the high cost of fuel,” says Mr Zahir.

Going forward, Mr Zahir disclosed that Cake City has set aside a budget of Sh20 million in the 2022 financial year to rebrand and aid its expansion plan.

The company is rebranding as part of its plan to enter new markets and push for engagement with its customers.

“We have just incorporated new visuals into our brand. We intend to use the new look to appeal to more customers,” he said.

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Pride Group consists of PrideInn Hotels, PrideDrive Cake City, PrideFuel, Airduka, Glory tours and safaris and Westlands Banquet Centre.

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