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Showing posts from 2019

Book Retailing - Retail 2020 (Article #5)

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Who killed the Sony Walkman? Apple iPod. Who killed Kodak Films? Digital Cameras.  T here are many such presumptive answers most of us carry, mostly opinions I would say. When the iPod was launched in 2003, it was helmed as the most disruptive Music innovation of our times. For, a small device that could be kept inside the coin pocket of a Levi’s Jeans could carry over 1,600 songs in a format created exclusively and patented by Apple. This, compared to an Audio CD which could carry at most, over 300 songs and that too in low audio quality and also needed a player with electricity to play while the iPod merely needed an earphone with a battery charged in advance. No, the iconic iPod didn’t kill the Walkman. Sony failed to innovate, despite having held a leadership position for 3 decades. Now, let me ask – who killed the Bookstores? Amazon? Flipkart? Guess my response in the previous paragraph would have clarified the position I take while answering this question.  Book

The Café boom – Retail 2020 (Article #4)

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When I was climbing up Vaishno Devi hills 5 years back late in the night, I saw to my pleasant surprise an outlet of Café Coffee Day midway known as “Ardh”. The café was quite popular among devotees and visitors and many regulars were savoring their favorite cuppa at this 24hr café. One can find over 1,700 such cafes across 450+ cities in India and the brand can be credited with creating as well as leading the “café culture” in India and introducing it to three generations since 1997 when the first one opened at Brigade Road, Bangalore. A friend of mine asked me a few years back, “what’s it like to drink a cappuccino at Starbucks in India?” – I said, enjoying a great cup of coffee indeed. He replied, “No, one spends Rs. 350 to live their American dream while spending the 90-120 mins at the Café”. In hindsight, this is quite true. I had written in my article only yesterday that most Indians buy luxury products for the “Badge Value” it offers and not really for what the product

Luxury Retailing - Retail 2020 (Article #3)

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I started my career in Retail in 1997 scooping ice-cream at Baskin Robbins’ second outlet in India and first in Chennai (then, Madras). As the current decade comes to an end and an exciting one unfolds, I am writing a series of 20 articles over 20 days (10 in Dec ’19 starting 22/12 and 10 in Jan ’20) on the various Retail developments I have personally witnessed since 2001 onwards. Today, I have written about the Luxury Retailing Industry which is pegged at US $ 1.3 Trillion globally and growing at a CAGR of 12%. Many years before when I was responsible for setting up India’s first ever retail arena at India’s first private airport at Bangalore in 2006, I had a special focus on creating a luxury retail zone. When I approached global brands like Apple, GAP, Omega and many others in India and abroad, they didn’t evince much interest. For India was not even a budding Luxury market then. Mont Blanc writing instruments, which is among the Top Brands sold across Airports worldwide di

Music Retail - Retail 2020 (Article #2)

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I started my career in Retail in 1997, scooping ice-cream at Basin Robbins' second outlet in India and first in Chennai (then, Madras). As the current decade comes to an end and an exciting one unfold, I am writing a series of 20 Articles over 20 days (10 in Dec' 19 and 10 in Jan'20) on the various Retail developments I have personally witnessed since 2001 onwards. Today I have written about the "Music Retail Industry". I joined RPG Retail as a Management Trainee through campus selection at ITM Business School where I pursued my 2-year MBA. After a 21-day orientation, we were sent to our respective “regions” as per the traditional culture of the then corporate behemoths. And mine was Kolkata, West Bengal. I reached out to my then GM – HR and asked her “why me?”. I had never crossed beyond Tamil Nadu for my vacations or holidays all my life and here, I am being sent to an unknown territory, unknown language, unknown people, unknown everything and that too on

Salons & Grooming - Retail 2020 (Article #1)

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I started my career in Retail in 1997 scooping ice-cream at Baskin Robbins’ second outlet in India and first in Chennai (then, Madras). As the current decade comes to an end and an exciting one unfolds, I am writing a series of 20 articles over 20 days (10 in Dec ’19 and 10 in Jan ’20) on the various Retail developments I have personally witnessed since 2001 onwards. Today, I have written about the Salon Industry which is pegged at 100,000  crores annually and a CAGR of 15-18%.  Every road in the heavily populated Mega Cities, Leading Metros and the Top 50 cities across India have a Salon or a Beauty Parlour. Even then, you would find that a national chain or a regionally popular brand name is scarce, say 1 out of 10 such salons. Around 3 decades back, premium Salons & Parlours in India for the uber rich, the industrialists, ace sports persons and Celebrities of Art and Cinema were restricted to the 5-Star Hotels. They would fancy paying a premium at these reputed places fo

Retail Employees Day

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12 December is celebrated annually as Retail Employees Day, an occasion to thank the frontend staff who have taken up Retail as their preferred occupation. Started in the year 2011 with a few outlets, RED 2019 was celebrated with much fervour across the country with celebrities coming forward to wish and thank the front-end staff for their continued service. It was a chance meeting that Mr. BS Nagesh, Former MD & CEO of Shoppers Stop, India’s much respected Department Store Chain, had with a few staff on the shop floor when he was setting up TRRAIN – Trust for Retailers and Retail Associates of India, that the staff said they were not being recognised for the work they do at Retail Stores. Thus was born RED, as a day to show gratitude to the staff who work multiple shifts daily, travel long distances mostly on public transport and in many cases, a primary or an ancillary bread winner for the family along with the parent.  I am personally quite happy that RED has gro

The Indian Retail Apocalypse

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The E-commerce companies mopped up over USD 3 billion during the Navarathri Sales late September / early October, we read in newspapers. That’s a small blip compared to the total business that usually happens all India during that period. To give a perspective, only Kolkata garnered a Sales turnover of Rs. 4,500 Crores and the State had an estimated Rs. 15,000 Crores in Sales during the Pujo Week, the Dasera Festival which is celebrated with much fervour Eastern India, especially West Bengal. For the rest of India, the Deepavali fortnight is the highest grosser akin to "Black Friday" Sales of the West (minus the discounts, usually). Most brands in the Electronics, Consumer Durables and Household Appliances businesses record 40% of their Annual Turnover during Q3 – October to December during when three important festivals occur and are celebrated all India – Deepavali, Eid and Christmas – New Year block.  Having contributed to Amazon and Flipkart during the Big Billion D

The Accidental Entrepreneur

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The first 15 years of my career was filled with exciting tenures at some of India’s top Retail companies. My flagship stints include designing and setting up the entire retail areas at India’s first private Airport at Bangalore in 2006. Subsequently I joined Café Coffee Day in 2009 and went on to set-up 140 cafés all India, all of them being operated directly by the company, save for a few Airports which were operated by JV partners. In 2012, I moved back from Bangalore after working there for 8 years to my hometown Chennai to join the world’s oldest automobile company in continuous production and India’s pride, Royal Enfield Motorcycles where I was responsible for transitioning to the new Retail Identity as well as setting up 160 dealerships across India. In all these three companies, I had the privilege to work with some of the best minds in the world and in India including with two top Entrepreneurs and I always dreamt of a confirmed berth in the C-suite by the time I hit my 40s (

Howdy Slowdown?

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Flipkart commenced operations in India about a decade ago. For the FY 2017-18, the Annual T/o of the company was Rs. 24,000 Crores (about US $4 Billion) while Amazon India has a turnover of Rs. 12,000 Crores for the same period. Swiggy earned around Rs. 442 Crores for the previous FY and Zomato added Rs. 1,340 Crores. Industry Leader in the Furniture segment Urban Ladder reported a top line of Rs. 200 Crores for the previous year. Offline Retail Giant Future Group has an annual turnover of Rs. 30,000 Crores across various formats from Grocery to Electronics. Reliance Retail on the other hand has a combined turnover of Rs. 100,000 Crores of which 70% comes from Fuel Retailing and Jio, the data cum telecom company which is part of the retail entity. Ola, the cab hailing company clocked a turnover of Rs. 2,200 Crores while Uber India has an approx. annual turnover of little less than 1,000 Crores last fiscal. Phew. So, why am I enlisting these turnover figures here? Because,

Food Fiesta! But Free Food?

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My favourite haunt in Chennai for a great Filter Coffee & South Indian snacks continues to be the iconic “Woodlands Restaurant” on RK Salai, Chennai which doesn’t have a towering personality quite literally (pun intended) like it’s neighbour Hotel Savera (which is among the first 5-Star Hotels in the city). But patrons and lovers of the third generation restaurant brand which runs a single branch in the city for over 5 decades is a sight to reckon. On a Weekend, one has to wait at least 30 mins if you are in a group of 4 or more, especially after 7pm. Around 9.15pm, the Manager would courteously inform you to look out elsewhere for dinner since the restaurant would take its last order by 10pm and that there would be no space for seating anymore. Call it brand arrogance or customer affinity; I term it the latter. For the love of Customers, that they would either come in early and dine their heart full or stay and dine, whichever suits them from time to time. Trust me, dining here