Retailer looks at some niche Southern Titans that have managed to set themselves apart from their peers.
Marred by diversity in consumer taste and preference across the length and breadth of the country, and other challenges such as expensive rentals and economic uncertainties, establishing a pan-Indian presence can be challenging, but for some niche regional retailers based out of Southern states, it is with the sheer domain knowledge that they manage to set themselves apart from their deep-pocketed and technological advanced peers. Retailer magazine looks at some lesser known, yet niche Southern Titans that have been around for a while and have used their domain knowledge to become profitable and successful.
1. Chennai Silk group
Present in: Chennai, Coimbatore, Tirupur, Erode, Tiruchi, Tirunelveli and Karur
Group Turnover: Rs 2,000 crore
Founded by A Kulandaivel Mudaliar in 1962, Chennai Silk group today is deeply strengthened as a Tamil Nadu-centric saree retailer more than an integrated textiles company. Witnessing footfalls of 25,000 a day, and 40,000 on weekends, its front-end stores take care of at least one lakh customers during festival season and durimg New Year. Deeply embedded into the shopping psyches of people in Chennai, Coimbatore, Tirupur, Erode, Tiruchi, Tirunelveli and Karur the record-holder retailer exports to leading brands such as JC Penney, Walmart, Decathlon, Carrefour, TESCO and Hanes.
The Chennai Silk group also owns Sri Kumaran Thangamaligai, retail Jewellery store with branches located across the state of Tamil Nadu. The five-decade-old-family-business has extended into building an eCommerce portal for online buyers, and has around 40,000 employees on its rolls. Although the brand has a decent online presence across all major portals, it is the store fronts in Southern India that yields maximum profits and customer engagement.
2. Vasanth and Co
Stores: 61 (plus)
Present in: Chennai, Bengaluru, Kerala and Pondicherry
Turnover: Rs 500 crore
Vasanth and Co, a Chennai-based company engaged in selling TVs and other household appliances, expect the sales to elevate by 30 per cent in the current year. H. Vasantha Kumar, proprietor and founder of Vasanth and Co, a chain of consumer goods showrooms, said: “The business of consumer durables can be summed up in three words: manufacturing, selling and service. Beyond that, the best a firm can do is to get what the customers want. Implement it in the system and get them what they want at the earliest. For me, technology is alright, but our buyers are the core of everything. We are always thinking how we can serve them better.”
Vasanth and Co was started in 1978 and currently has more than 61 showrooms in almost every town in Tamil Nadu. Expanding the base to Bengaluru and Pondicherry, the company’s turnover is reported to be over Rs 500 crore. Vasanth and Co sells wide range of products, including mobile phones, refrigerators, air-conditioners, microwave ovens, washing machines and other household appliances. They are dealers of world-class manufacturers like LG, Samsung, Sony, Sharp, Philips, Whirlpool and the like.
3. Poorvika Mobiles
Present in: Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Karnataka
Turnover: Rs 1,000 crore to Rs 1,100 crore
Starting out in a tiny outlet in Kodambakkam, Chennai in 2004, Poorvika Mobiles has grown to become one of the largest mobile retailers in Tamil Nadu. Founded in 2004 as a single retail outlet today, has 240 mobile showrooms across 43 cities in Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry and Karnataka and a workforce of over 3500 professionals.
The brand, whose CEO N Uvaraj represented India in the Olympic Torch Rally in England’s Manchester, after being elected as one among the 12 ‘torchbearer’ businessmen in the world, serves over 40 lakh customers and is also venturing into its own online space to elevate to the next level of sales and convenience. The multi-brand mobile retail chain deals in mobile phones and connections, accessories, recharges and internet data cards. The chain was awarded the Power Brand Glams Las Vegas Award in the US in June 2013.
4. Himalaya Drug Company
Present in: 90 countries around the world
Turnover: Rs 2,000 crore
The ayurvedic brand, Himalaya – known for its products in the personal care segment and a history spanning more than eight decades in herbal research – has successfully transformed itself into a FMCG player rather than just pharma and herbal healthcare products manufacturer. Today, it has about 200 products across verticals such as personal and body care, baby care and animal health, and pharmaceuticals. In an earlier interaction with Retailer magazine, Philipe Haydon, CEO, The Himalaya Drug Company revealed that the company has witnessed a four-fold growth, from Rs 300 crore in FY2008 to Rs 1,200 crore in FY14.
Today, the company sells its products in around 90 countries, and its consumer products division that sells its face washes and lip balms account for 50 per cent of the Rs 2,000 crore sales revenue for Himalaya currently. It has been growing around 30 per cent annually over the last couple of years. Had M. Manal not stopped at the sight of restless elephants feeding on Rauwolfia serpentine, a pacifying herb, back in 1930, and rode through the Burma forests sans any curiosity, the traditional Indian science of Ayurveda would have smashed into oblivion for the majority of urban population.