Ramp up the retail speed

Retail in India stands at an interesting crossroad, with the ghost of the meltdown now a mere spectre of the past and the future a welcoming avenue propelling India as a favoured retail destination. Well-known retail expert and Co-Founder and Director, Fo
Hemchandra Javeri

Retail in India stands at an interesting crossroad, with the ghost of the meltdown now a mere spectre of the past and the future a welcoming avenue propelling India as a favoured retail destination. Well-known retail expert and Co-Founder and Director, Forum Synergies, Hemchandra Javeri, shares his vision of the retailing scenario in India. 

Jasmeet Sahi (JS): Since when have you been a part of Forum Synergies? Tell us something about your journey in retail so far.
Hemchandra Javeri (HJ):
My partners and I created Forum Synergies about a year back. This is a private equity fund management company, based in Bengaluru. Our first fund is focused on engineering and biotech manufacturing, but our subsequent funds are likely to be focused on retail.

My journey in retail began many years back, in the late nineties, when retail as an industry was just beginning to develop. First as Country Manager-South Asia for Nike, and then as President for Madura Garments, over an almost ten year period, I have been lucky to be at the forefront of the retail revolution in India. I have closely watched and been part of pioneering and aggressive retail expansion, launching new formats and retail concepts, exciting innovations like profit sharing in malls and factory outlet strategies, and most of all, being a coach and mentor to several young people who came to make careers in retail.  

JS: What in your opinion is crucial for retailers today in India to attain a high rate of retail success?
HJ:
I have always driven a profitable retail model, and that is the crucial focus for retailers. Unfortunately many retailers expanded too fast and without planning or preparation, and that came back to hurt them. My strategy is ‘cautious aggression’ for retail growth. Similarly, retailers and mall owners/high street owners must work together to a common cause and only that will help both win, else they will both lose.  

JS: Which retail format (shop-in-shop, MBO, EBO etc) is suited best for Indian retailers?
HJ:
In India, there will always be room for various formats depending on location, concept, product category, etc. All can exist. Of course, the success of each will depend on how the retail is managed and developed. But most importantly, it will always depend on how close to the consumer, the retailer is, and how effectively they meet the consumers’ needs and desires. Even for apparel, we used all formats like MBO, EBO, shop-in-shop effectively together to great success, but remained focused on what the consumer wanted in that location.  

JS: Do you see India as a favoured international retail destination in the near future? 
HJ:
Absolutely, it is already one of the top retail destinations. But the fact is that there are several challenges like infrastructure, supply chain, systems and that has to change. India is a tough market to enter and develop and entrants need to think long term before they think success.  

JS: Can an alteration in the FDI laws help in the growth of the organised retail industry?
HJ:
Yes they can, but there are other ways to develop retail in India, and it is not only FDI that is needed. There are many other actions that can be taken in India as well, apart from relaxing the FDI laws.  

JS: What strategies can retailers entering tier II and III cities employ to retain consumer interest and trust?
HJ:
There is often a latent market in such towns but what is required is an environment and also the right value equation. If you offer these two, you can get the consumer to the store. If you have the right store experience and ambience and good quality staff who begin to build relationships with consumers, you have a winning formula in such cities.  

JS: Lastly, any advice for future entrepreneurs? 
HJ:
Retail is a great business for future entrepreneurs. There are opportunities in various segments, especially the ‘supply-in’ to big box retail, retail services, franchising of branded outlets and so on. But retail business is long term and needs patience, and it also needs continuous passion and involvement.  



 

Hemchandra Javeri, Co-Founder and Director, Forum Synergies
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