Economy

Not a leak or frill in Queen’s packs

Swetha Kannan |R. Ravikumar | | Updated on: Oct 24, 2012

BL24_QUEENS

It does not take more than a minute for this Chennai-based company to seal in food items for NRIs leaving for abroad

Chandra Raman’s daughter is all set to leave for Boston tonight but the thengai podi (coconut powder), pickles and tamarind paste still haven’t been packed. But Chandra isn’t hassled as she knows she can rely on ‘Queens’ to do the job efficiently.

A nondescript shop in the crowded neighbourhood of Mylapore, Chennai, overlooking the MRTS station, ‘Queens Abroad Packers’ has for over 25 years been catering to parents of NRIs, eager to pack a bit of home, away from home – leak-proof and air-tight. 

In the 30-odd minutes spent at the barely 10x10 shop, one spots that more than a dozen “customers” queued up with different food items. And, it takes not more than a minute to pack each item. “We pack at least 100 kg a day,” says A. Syed, owner of the shop. Not just from Chennai, Queens even has clients from Hyderabad and Bangalore.

It all started when Syed had to send masala podis to his uncles in Qatar and Dubai. He procured a simple flat-press machine to seal the powder. Soon, word got around about the ‘fancy’ store that packs food items to be sent abroad. In no time, food packaging became the mainstay for Queens.

As the packaging business evolved, Syed began adopting better technologies. Today, his locally-made ‘band sealer’ with a 300-Watt heat press does sophisticated packing: Two layers of sealing in low-density food-gradable plastic covers of 180 GSM thickness and a final sealing with a synthetic silver foil “to keep the aroma intact”. While Queens manufactures the plastic covers on its own from plastic billets, the foil is sourced from Bangalore and Hyderabad.

“Food items thus packed can stay fresh for up to 6 months in the refrigerator,” he assures.

Tie-up for shipment

These products are mostly sent to the US and the UK. While some customers prefer to take them along with their check-in baggage, Queens has tied up with Fedex and DHL to ship directly. “But if they want us to ship, they have to produce an identity proof.”

Queens also offers home pick-up and delivery services.

Packing charges are Rs 30 a kg (Rs 40 for Australia, as the country insists on a label, with the list of ingredients, to be affixed on the packaging).

Queens also packs non-perishables – from saris, dhotis to kolu dolls, mixers and wet grinders. Fragile items are bubble-wrapped and packed in aluminium boxes, while other items are packed in corrugated boxes. “Our busiest packing season is before Diwali when parents shower their loved ones with gifts galore,” says Syed.

Even during power cuts, the work goes on with the help of generator back-up. 

Syed, who has studied up to class eight, has roped in his brother Gani, who is an arts graduate, to give the business a technology edge.

It is still early days, but Queens want to take its business online.

NRIs who want sweets and snacks from their favourite shops in Chennai need not bother their folks back home. They can now place an order online at queenspackers.com  for thattai from Grand Sweets or kara sev from Anand Bhavan, and transfer money online. Queens offers end-to-end service from buying, sealing, shipping and even tracking the consignment.

swetha.kannan@thehindu.co.in

ravikumar.ramanujam@thehindu.co.in

Published on October 24, 2012
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