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Xi Xiang, Chinese cuisine unmanned restaurant and bento delivery platform, has completed 120 million RMB Series B funding from Silicon Paradise and CCI Investment. Funds will be used for store expansion, research and development to construct an unmanned kitchen and standardized supply chain. Previously, Xi Xiang received their angel round from Newson Venture Capital and Series A from Jinkong Investment Management Co.
Xi Xiang began to explore smart cooking technologies in 2013. Through years of research, they have formed a standardized unmanned cooking system, taking up more than 80% of the production process. Their in-house intelligent cooking equipment eliminates flame and emission with a digital simulation of various cook methods such as deep fried, pan fried, steam and so on. Every dish has its own programmed cooking process and takes 3-5 minutes to cook.
Co-founder Li Ming positioned Xi Xiang as a service catered to white-collars. Their stores are usually located near the office buildings. A store is about 80 square meters, providing in-store purchase and food delivery. Xi Xiang aims to provide healthily and a variety of quick meals for Chinese white-collars. At present, there are more than 1000 SKUs with 8 dishes per week that are renewed weekly. The store offers three main categories of meals: new recipes, business meals, and CEO set meals. Price ranges between 25 and 68 yuan.
Xi Xiang’s unmanned restaurant allows customers to take orders from machines. A typical restaurant of 80 square meters can produce an average of 200 packages in two hours, while Xi Xiang can produce 300 packages per hour with only one machine. Xi Xiang has an average sale per unit area of 20,000. The sale per labor is 10,000, nearly 10 times that of the traditional restaurant or fast food chain.
Other than production process, Xi Xiang has also standardized its distribution. Xi Xiang strictly selects suppliers with QS or CS qualifications (Chinese quality and safety mark for food). Food suppliers will supply pre-cooked fresh food according to Xi Xiang’s OEM recipes. The temperature of delivery vehicles is controlled to guarantee the freshness of the food.
To better serve customers, Xi Xiang has a team to cover office buildings within the radius of 1km. Customers can order their meals through their app or third-party apps. The Xi Xiang WeChat public account has accumulated more than 100,000 fans. The company hopes to shorten the radius to 500 meters, allowing self-collection thereby reducing logistics costs.
There are various existing alternatives such as convenience stores and unmanned bento machines in the market. Li believes that the industry should focus on two things.
First is to have continuous research and development for new dishes. Since the beginning of this year, Xi Xiang has abandoned the model of having a central kitchen. Instead, they deliver food directly from the suppliers, hence reducing logistics costs. Furthermore, they will be more flexible to the changing demands of consumers’ taste buds.
Second is to put emphasis on food safety. Xi Xiang has developed a digitally standardized management system to keep track of the supply chain, production, logistics, and distribution process, to ensure food safety. Li believes that this is one of Xi Xiang’s focus competitiveness.
Currently, Xi Xiang has 53 stores in Shanghai and Hangzhou, and the unmanned kitchen has been on trial for almost a year. According to the information provided by the team, the daily sales volume of an average Xi Xiang store is 500-800. An average customer pays 32 yuan and the daily revenue is over 15,000 yuan. It does not operate on weekends and holidays but may consider changing this in the future. The store can achieve breakeven in 1-3 months, and the return on investment period is 6-12 months. In 2017, the company’s sales were 192 million yuan with a profit of 13 million. This year’s turnover is expected to reach 400 million.
The Xi Xiang team currently has more than 400 people and is headquartered in Shanghai. There are nearly 250 executives made up of young people. Founder Liu has more than ten years of experience in real estate. At the same time, he is the ambassador of the national quintessence Kunqu and integrates Kunqu’s exquisite, delicate, regular and full of ingenuity culture into Xi Xiang’s Bento. The technical team was made up of people from Siemens, Germany’s Erwin Jongke and other automation companies. They have also recruited chefs who are experienced in both Chinese and Hong Kong cuisine.