Interview with Taimur Butt, CEO of Red Mango (Pakistan)

New York Magazine calls it “the yogurt that started it all is on its way… Reeks of authenticity; the thinking man’s yogurt.”
Red Mango (2)

Born and raise in Pakistan in a military family, Taimur Butt walked the talk on Wall Street with JP Morgan after graduating from Georgetown University in 2001 and gained an experience that offered him the mindset for high stakes negotiation skills that contributed to his ability to serve a family business – Area 51 – with new revenue streams and a refreshed positive image in Karachi. In 2007, he armed himself with a MSc in Real Estate Development from the coveted Columbia University and was later named Chairman of Georgetown University Alumni in Pakistan. He stays true to his roots and was always interested in exploring new opportunities; this year his family business – TMN – was awarded Master Franchiser for Red Mango in Pakistan and launched Zamzama Mall in late 2014.

Taimur approached the regional directors for Red Mango in Seoul and secured a deal whereby 10 outlets would be launched in the next 10 years. Unlike other players in the fro-yo business, he has no interest in franchising Red Mango to interested local parties (as yet) – for the sole purpose of quality control – something competitors have steadily lost control of and Taimur values relationships. In 2013, he launched an outlet a Nueplex and will progress with further outlets in Lahore and Islamabad (Safa Mall and Bahria Town).

Red Mango is a QSR – Quick Service Restaurant and one of the fastest-growing retailers of all-natural nonfat and low fat frozen yogurt and fresh fruit smoothies. Unlike its competitors in Pakistan, it is recognized by numerous health & fitness experts as having the highest nutritional value per gram and has earned numerous awards, including the prestigious Nation’s Restaurant News’ “Hot Concepts!” award and the industry-recognized SupplySide’s “Scientific Excellence Award,” as well as best frozen yogurt honors in Dallas, Seattle, Las Vegas, Chicago, Utah and New York by highly-regarded independent publications. Winning the Zagat award in 2011 and 2012 for being #1 in frozen yogurt placed the brand at the center stage of taste and health excellence.

According to various independent sources, Red Mango serves uniquely delicious frozen yogurt that is all-natural, nonfat and low fat which helps support the immune and digestive systems when consumed as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. As the first frozen yogurt retailer to earn the National Yogurt Association’s “Live and Active Cultures” seal for meeting the required criteria for healthy frozen yogurt. The market demand for fro-yo in Pakistan has boomed rapidly in the last decade, with imitators cropping up alongside international franchisees, and the consumers are steadily experiences the drop in taste, quality and health value. Red Mango has swooped in to claim those customer bases for itself and has retained a healthy following online and in-store.

Awareness on this fresh market entrant is gained by a strong online & offline presence:

  • 8-10 billboards strategically placed within 20 minutes of the outlets
  • Social & digital media presence (managed by Symmetry Digital)
  • Public relations and events (managed by CatWalk)

The current challenged faced are operational in nature and are in the process of becoming streamlined as key players hasten their learning curve:

– Inventory management, having to source by importing key products
– Shortage of experienced talent in F&B industry, with exposure in frozen desserts
– working in a country that is used to a dine in culture as opposed to place order on counter and get served.
– satisfying requirements and climate expected by HQ

The business boasts a wide range of consumable options, from fro-yo’s to smoothies, panini’s, cookies and shakes – so there is something for everyone – all its all healthy & fresh. The targeted customer profile – health oriented women in the 18-35 age range – is heavy on spending, noted for consuming multiple items from the menu range due to its calorie count provided (allowing them to track their diets) and enjoy the outstanding taste. With a small cup at 140 calories and a filling taste, it meets the target markets’ need precisely.

The Zamzama outlet has a maximum seating capacity of 35 to 40 customers (depending on understanding of personal space). Based on my teams observations during peak seasons and from a survey with 30 current and 14 present customers:

– Average time taken between order placement and completion is 8 minutes (an average that is decreasing everyday)
– Average time spent in the outlet was 55 minutes (including the 8 minutes fulfillment time) per customer or group of customers.
– Average value consumables were PKR 1,525 per head (exclusive of taxes).

Based on these estimation from our team, the Zamzama outlet alone has the earning potential of USD 5,000 per day and it operates at 90% of capacity from Asr to Isha timings according to staff and outlet guards. Within the next 8 years, 10 outlets will be added in Pakistan, with 5 coming in a 30 months cycle. While determining the margins wasn’t within reach nor the franchisee fees, the growth and insurgence of fro-yo in Pakistan spells a positive note for this industry – more so in fact – due to the superior taste quality & healthy value maintained by Red Mango Pakistan.

Published by Babar Khan Javed

Babar Khan Javed started his corporate career in 2011 with the co-creation of a social media agency called Sociality 360, which he (and his partner) sold to Pakistan's largest traditional advertising within 15 months of formation. Since then he has structured deals in the form of mergers & acquisitions for a number of digital and internet based companies & start-ups. In 2014, he became the first Pakistani to be nominated for Deloitte's Pro Bono Champion (organized by Points of Light) for his entrepreneurship development work via INJAZ in Pakistan. As of today (July 2015), Babar is a freelance business journalist with his work featured in Express Tribune, WARC's Market Leader, CMO Council's PeerSphere and ALM's Consulting Magazine. He is also a high level member on the advisory board for "Green & White" an advertising technology firm that grants contextual relevance for English and Urdu medium digital publishers. He is currently seeking out start-up CEO's to assist in their top & bottom line results & goals, and can be reached on for further inquiry.

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