The Rs 800-crore Home Stores India, owner of The Home Store (THS) retail chain, is looking at a new market. It hopes to impart education and training in retail management. The company is setting up 'The Indian Institute of Retail', the first institute for retail, at Kalindi (New Friends Colony), in New Delhi by March next year. The company plans to open 50 such retail training institutes across the country.
To begin with the institute will run two courses. First, a four-month course to provide training to the 'front staff', cashiers, sales and customer care executives. The second course, which will take up nine months, is about retail operations, warehousing and marketing. After the completion of the course, the students will be given a month's internship in one of the Home Stores outlets.
According to the company estimates, this venture will meet the need for approximately 2.5 million retail executives in the next five years. It seems some big retailers such as Shoppers' Stop and Goutier have evinced interest in this initiative.
Simultaneously, the company is looking to spread its retail net. It will add more outlets to its super market chain Sabka Bazaar and the party stores, besides setting up several hypermarkets in Delhi and the NCR. By the end of this year, 26 more Sabka Bazaar shops are to be added to the existing four.
The Sabka Bazaar shops offer a wide range of merchandise ranging from personal care products and cosmetics to groceries and processed foods. In an attempt to increase footfall, all the items at Sabka Bazaar are priced lower than the MRPs printed on the packs. As such, these stores are positioned as 'Sabse Sasta Bazaar'.
Each of these stores takes up an investment of Rs 1.5 crore - Rs 4 crore and stand on an area between 2,000 sq feet and 4,000 sq feet. All Sabka Bazaar shops are company owned. However, the company is open to charting the franchisee route as long as it finds "a good partner".
Explaining the reasons for the company's aggressive expansion plans, Arif Sheikh, president, Home Stores India, says, "Currently, there is no bazaar that provides a complete and convenient shopping experience to the residents of Delhi and the NCR. Moreover, this three-month old supermarket chain has no competition. Therefore, this is the right time to go aggressive on expansion."
Simultaneously, the company has started work on its new hypermarket project. By December end, Home Store India's first hypermarket is expected to be up and running on a 77,000 sq feet area near Faridabad. Though Sheikh refused to indicate the kind of investment that has gone into the project, he did mention that the investment on each hypermarket is '…definitely Rs 50-crore plus." The company has set a target of putting up six such hypermarkets by the year 2003.
Sheikh hopes that these hypermarkets will replicate the success of such hypermarkets as Metro in Singapore, Lot 10 in Malaysia and, closer home, Giant (of the RPG group) in Hyderabad and Big Bazaar (of Pantaloon) in Kolkata. "There is certainly tremendous growth opportunity in this particular type of retailing. People lead very hectic lives these days. They do not have more than two to three hours to shop, be with the kids, enjoy a meal etc. Only a hypermarket can pack all these requirements in that limited time."
In addition, the company plans to open 500 more party stores by the first quarter of next year (2002). Currently, there are four such stores in the capital. For the party stores, the company is keen on taking the franchisee route. However, the only obstacle, says Sheikh, "…is the location and only the location. Everything depends on the location."
These party stores are meant to fulfil all party needs. They provide facilities such as catering, printing cards, DJs to provide the music etc. Sheikh is keeping his fingers crossed so far as the party stores are concerned. "It will take another two to three years for people to get accustomed to this concept," he says. "The Sabka Bazaar business will give me the turnover, hypermarkets will give me the profit and the party stores will give hope."
With his plans in place, Sheikh hopes to increase the company's turnover by more than 50 per cent this year (last year it stood at Rs 800 crore). While the company hopes the new ventures to contribute significantly to the turnover, the bulk of the business will still come from the company's core business, which is, manufacturing and exporting home accessories to international retailers such as Walmart, Metro etc.
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