It’s been a big decade for SumoSalad founder Luke Baylis. Since opening his first store in 2003, the health conscious entrepreneur has changed the way Australians eat lunch – and grown his business into a fast food staple.
SumoSalad sold its first leafy dish from a solitary location on Liverpool street in Sydney’s CBD. Franchising was inevitable given the brand’s instant popularity and there are now 86 stores across Australia – and nine internationally – all serving up nutritious meals for lunchtime eaters on the run.
We recently caught up with the man behind the salad empire to talk about his journey and plans for future expansion.
What inspired you to start your SumoSalad?
I wanted to create a business that I was passionate about – something that had a real sense of purpose, as well as something that could contribute to society. I also thought there was a huge opportunity in creating a business that was based on learnings from other businesses we had operated.
What sets SumoSalad apart?
Fresh, healthy food is at the core of SumoSalad and we set ourselves apart by making this a reality. We’re celebrating SumoSalad’s 10th birthday this year and the success of the company can easily be attributed to this. We buy directly from farms and producers around Australia, and work closely with chef, Pete Evans and dietitian Georgina Moore, to develop our menus.
Do you intend to change the menu and introduce new products?
Innovation is a vital part of the SumoSalad business, so we are constantly looking to evolve the menu and introduce new products. Watch this space!
What kind of growth is the business enjoying?
We’re showing consistent double-digit growth and continue to outperform the industry by significant proportions.
What’s the most challenging thing about your industry?
Within the retail industry, it can be extremely challenging to maintain margins when consumer price expectations are so low. Evolving health trends also mean that we must constantly have our finger on the pulse, so we may continue to offer customers new and exciting food experiences.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far?
The biggest lesson I learnt was to keep focus on the core business and constant innovation. I think it’s easy to become immersed in new things, but you can lose sight of what’s most important. I have to constantly narrow my focus on the things that had the most meaningful impact on SumoSalad.
Are there any entrepreneurs you look up to?
There are many entrepreneurs I look up to, but if I had to choose one, it would be Jamie Packer. He has successfully transformed his business and taken many risks – each move has been well calculated, measured and executed.
What advice would you offer to other entrepreneurs or aspiring entrepreneurs?
Always go into business with due diligence and research. This will help new and existing entrepreneurs know the business and industry they’re going in to. It’s also important to make sure you have sufficient capital to achieve the business outcomes.
What’s next for you?
My focus for SumoSalad over the next 12 months will be on customer and store growth. The recent investment from the Tulla Group has provided significant opportunities for SumoSalad to expand across Australia. I will also be focusing on developing the innovation of our products.