Chat with Justin Seamonds, President of Dean & Deluca

Justin Seamonds

Whenever my foodie friends travel to New York City, they will visit the flagship Dean & Deluca store at SoHo and stock up on their favourite products.

For those of you who have not heard of the brand, Dean & Deluca is a luxury gourmet grocer which carries a range of artisan gourmet food, wines and kitchenware.

Kitchen Language – the F&B arm of Far East Organisation – is bringing in the iconic New York lifestyle brand to Singapore, with the first flagship store at Orchard Central opening on 22th June.

The good people at Kitchen Language sent me on a trip to New York City for the Dean and Deluca experience, and while I was there, I had the pleasure of chatting with Justin Seamonds, the president of Dean & Deluca. Here are some pretty interesting insights into the Dean & Deluca world.

What is your job scope at Dean & Deluca?

My functional areas include building relationship with our international partners; distribution channels like e-commerce; as well as marketing and public relations. For areas like retail, administration, and infrastructure, I have a good team to assist me.

Dean and Deluca

How closely does Dean & Deluca work with its suppliers?

Our role at Dean and Deluca is to source for the best products from all over the world, so it is very important for us to work closely with our suppliers to ensure that we get the best for our customers.

One of the key challenges is that we have to deal with a lot of suppliers. Luckily, we get to work with many wonderful people, and this makes our job much easier.

Dean & Deluca SOHO

It is always difficult to replicate the experience overseas. What can we expect from D&D Singapore?

It is impossible to replicate the whole experience, but you can rest assured that the key features – design, layout, music, signage – will be consistent. It’s not going to be exactly the same, but you can expect it to be similar. And of course, food is the highlight of the Dean & Deluca experience – it will be the same for the Singapore stores.

I am delighted to see that D&D is carrying TWG Tea. Would Dean & Deluca be interested in other Singapore’s products?

Definitely! We are happy to carry more Singapore products, and we are actually working to bring some of them to our Dean & Deluca stores in the other cities. But this will have to wait as the priority is to build up our brand in Singapore.

Dean Deluca Food

Dean & Deluca has stores in cities around the world like Tokyo, Bangkok, Seoul, Kuwait, Qatar, Dubai, and Turkey. Is Europe in the pipeline?

We have a great working relationship with our partners in Middle East, and as they have a great reach in several countries, it’s very easy to expand the business there. Even though we have been approached many times, we are still not represented in Europe because we couldn’t find a suitable partner. But one of my goals this year is definitely to enter the Europe market. Do look out for it!

Any nice restaurants to recommend in NYC?

I like the Burger and Barrel (25 West Houston Street New York Tel: 212 334-7320); you can enjoy good burgers in a terrific atmosphere. Lure Fishbar (142 Mercer Street New York Tel: 212 431-7676) – the sister restaurant of Burger & Barrel – is also very good. It serves mainly seafood and it has very fresh oysters. Another of my favourite place is Saxol and Parole (316 Bowery New York Tel: 212 254 0350). I have only eaten there once, and it was really an exceptional meal.

Dean & Deluca

Any interesting plans coming up for Dean & Deluca?

We are currently discussing with several potential partners from Western Europe and South America. Our merchandisers are flying to many countries to scout for more products.

We also expect to start accelerating the pace of the product partnership. Japan has around 400 private labels in the Dean & Deluca brand, so we will be bringing their products to our stores in New York to test out the market. Our Thai partner will be working on a few exciting products to introduce to our worldwide market as well. I hope that the international section of Dean & Deluca in US will be able to reflect our standing in the market.

And of course, the most exciting news is our opening in Singapore. Isn’t that great enough?

Full Disclosure & Fine Print: I travelled to New York City as a guest of Dean & Deluca and Kitchen Language. No monetary benefits were received, only air tickets and hotel accommodations were sponsored.