To many, visiting Hallab 1881 is a must while in Tripoli. To others, it is the gifting item to offer when traveling from Lebanon, as it brings back memories of their beloved country.
To all this legacy and nostalgia, HN spoke with Raneem Hallab, director of operations at Hallab, to know more about the brand’s business development and plans.
How did Hallab Kasr El Helo, build its brand equity across the years to become synonymous with authentic Lebanese sweets?
The brand has evolved so much since 1881. It all started with my great grand-father who had a mission and commitment to offer the freshest and tastiest Lebanese sweets to his friends and clients on a kiosk in old souks of Tripoli. His grandson, Abdul Rahman Hallab has continued the journey, teaching the next generations to ‘do it well, or not at all’. Along with a great palate, that mindset has been passed through the next generations, with every member of the family involved in the business today committed to provide a sweet experience to the end-consumer – to produce and offer tasty and fresh products made from the best ingredients, and to keep customers satisfied.
What distinguishes your brand and products?
There are several factors distinguishing the Hallab 1881 brand and products. Such elements create a very important cycle in our daily operations:
Procurement of highest quality of raw materials, at any cost;
Craftsmanship in manufacturing Lebanese sweets – Family members have inherited excellent palates and knowledge from previous generations, which continuously help innovate;
Assuring product quality during and after manufacturing process; and
Providing exceptional customer experience – we always make sure the customer is satisfied with our products and services.
How did COVID-19 affect your business, knowing that you were among the first to deliver sweets?
There is no doubt the COVID-19 outbreak has impacted almost every brick-and-mortar business around the world and has brought so many new challenges. But with every new challenge comes a new opportunity. The temporary lockdown on the one hand has allowed board members and head of departments to pause, take a moment, breathe, and rethink the whole business model from outside the box in order to maintain sustainability. Planning for the next steps has become a necessity given the urgency of the situation, which has led to many ideas to be implemented in the coming months. On the other hand, the current crisis has increased awareness among clients and employees about hygiene, health, and food safety, which has helped the company reinforce its existing quality and food safety measures but in a more efficient way. As a consequence, that has strengthened the trust our customers put into us even further, leading to more awareness about our online presence and driving more online sales, both local and international. Of course, this has created an opportunity to enhance our delivery service further, especially during such circumstances.
What are your upcoming development plans?
The COVID-19 crisis has helped the company prioritize and speed up some of the projects we’ve been working on for years; We have penetrated new wholesale markets, allowing the company to maintain a steady revenue and keep the production facility operational day and night. While more markets will be targeted progressively, we need to make sure they are the right markets for our brand and products. Simultaneously, the online international sales have helped us better understand the market volume and needs abroad. We are currently planning to expand our reach on the international scale through both our Franchise model and through FMCG markets. While both plans require some additional work to innovate packaging and product shelf-life, we are currently on the right track to accomplish a new milestone. After so many years of research and development, the quality and taste of our signature ‘Kashta’ has been standardized with Libnor to become the reference. That is yet another achievement that we should be leveraging to strengthen further our brand.
Where do you see the brand in the next five years?
That is a difficult scenario to anticipate given the current circumstances, yet our vision continues to evolve with every milestone accomplished. While leaving our footprint in the local and international market has been an important objective for us, becoming the top of mind brand for Lebanese and oriental sweets on a global scale would definitely make every Lebanese citizen proud.
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