"We aim to be 1000 stores company by 2025": Pratik Shah

In an exclusive conversation with Pratik Shah, CEO, Specsmakers sheds light on emerging opportunities in eyewear segment.
Tell us about Specsmakers. How did the brand started and journey so far? 
Specsmakers started in the year 2007 with a single store in T nagar in Chennai. Moving into a neighbourhood concept and as a single brand, Specsmakers as a brand has moved into a 10 store brand in Chennai within a couple of years. Specsmakers aims at providing very high-quality eyewear for all ranges of customers, backed with exceptional services and quick delivery at a very affordable price. From a 10 stores network, the company has grown to 180 store network within a span of 10 years in 6 cities in the South. 
Recently, the eyewear space has become extremely crowded with so many so many start up players popping up. How would you assess the Indian eyewear market? Kindly mention few numbers to quantify the same?
Indian market is at a size of 25,000 crore and only 30% penetration in India. Rural and sub-rural areas have a great need for vision correction and they don’t have solutions provided at an affordable price yet. As of now, the market is still dominated by the unorganized players who command 90% market share. As and when the awareness about vision correction improves there will be more solution providers in the market and there will be a larger market to capture.
Tell us about the retail footprint of the brand. Also, going forward what would be the strategies to scale up the distribution?
As of now, we have 105 stores in Chennai itself and 20 other stores channelled in rest of Tamil Nadu and in Bangalore we have 60 stores. As a company, our major focus is to be a Southern driven brand until we reach a size of 500 stores in the Southern States.  
Recently, the company has raised 70 cr. What are the plans to utilize the raised funds?
The fund raised was utilised more into the store expansion and marketing, also to increase the team size and we have also invested in the back-end infrastructure. 
What are the plans to expand the brand from online space? What would your strategies to scale up the distribution from the online space?
We are looking at the online space only to provide our consumers a feel of our products before they walk-in to our stores. We have plans to tie- up with eye specialists where it would open up centres and also look at selling its products through other retailers.
Who do you see as your biggest competition within same space?
The USP of our product is that we are into value for money affordable space and as a matter of competition every optician whether a chain or a mom and pop store is our competitor.
Luxury is the emerging segment in the eyewear space. How do you look at tapping elite discerning class of consumers?
 We would never want to enter the luxury space in the segment with the eyewear brand. Specsmakers as we believe in the value for money segment. We don’t understand, whysomeone would pay such high prices for an eyewear. 
Can you highlight your growth plans? 
The company by the end of this financial year would be at 200+ stores and the plans to raise capital to expand its further network to 300 stores. By 2020 the company plans to be a 400 stores company and by 2025 would be1000 stores Company. We plan to have atleast 150 stores per State and are looking at the top 8 States in the country. 
Pratik Shah