We aim to open 5 more stores by the end of the year: Sameer Minglani

In an exclusive conversation with Sameer Minglani, COO, Meena Bazaar sheds light on the growth strategy of the brand.
We aim to open 5 more stores by the end of the year: Sameer Minglani

How do you see the market for ethnic wear is growing in India? What is your prediction about this market considering next five years? Also shed light on the journey of the brand so far? 

Meena Bazaar was established in 1970 and standing the test of time we have had a unique space from which we have really seen the ethnic wear market in the country grow and prosper. Today, there is a lot of focus on ethnic wear, especially bridal trends, as that is the sector that is growing by leaps and bounds. With this exponential growth and the entry of a lot of new interesting designers and players into the industry, we are seeing the development of a healthy fashion ecosystem where customers will be spoilt for choice. 

Meena Bazaar has had a magnificent journey from a small store in Karol Bagh to a Pan India presence now with 30 stores across 9 cities. We are currently focussing on further expanding our reach. We are also looking at diversifying our collections in order to cater to the Indian audience that is a lot more aware of fashion, trends and is a lot more in tune with what they want. For example, our latest collection, 'Destination Love', that we showcased at Delhi Times fashion Week, aimed at capturing the style and trends that are unique to various regions in India. We had a lot of banarasi fabric, silks, brocade etc. that was combined with contemporary elements and silhouettes to create an interesting mix that would fulfill the needs of the discerning fashion customer of today. 

What is your reach in terms of the total number of outlets and cities? How many footfalls do you get each month? How many of your stores are franchise stores? What kind of franchisees do you look for?  

Meena Bazaar has 30 stores across 9 cities in India and we are currently looking at further expanding our operations and will soon be opening 5 more stores by the end of the year. More than this, our core focus is to understand the diverse needs of today's discerning audience, that is more aware of fashion, and have their own unique sensibilities, and according to adapt our collections. We at Meena Bazaar, firmly believe in that only by understanding the market and our consumer's needs and desires, will we be able to curate a great customer experience, which is essential. Apart from this, we are very excited to be entering the markets that are new to us, such as Mumbai and Pune.

In terms of customer interactions, we see a lot of footfall across our stores in India. We have really focussed on cultivating strong bonds and relationships with our customers. They are the most important factor for us, and we have been truly blessed in having customers that are not only loyal but have truly interacted with us as a brand at a deeper level more meaningful manner. We have had entire families where different generations have come and shopped from us, and have trusted us as their brand of choice for ethnic wear. This is one of the key reasons that we focus on curating more special experiences for our customers, by means of our collections and what Meena Bazaar has to offer as a brand.

We don’t have any franchises, it’s always been a family-run and nurtured business and we hope we can maintain that. Since we never want to close that personal connect with our costumers. 

What is your market positioning and customer profile? Which is your primary and secondary target group of customers? What are the various initiatives you have taken to look after your customer better? 

We are an ethnic wear retail brand and our audience is mainly female-driven. Since it’s a family-owned business we relate to our costumers on a personal level. We still have a huge clientele that has been with us since the inception of the brand. As we understand the importance of sentiments attached to the wedding and trousseau shopping, we ask our team members to understand and respect this and focus on ensuring our customers have a personalised experience. For us at Meena Bazaar it is important to cultivate relationships, we are not just another shop, we want to be the space that feels comfortable and makes our customers feel like they can trust us, because we relate to the emotions that a family goes through while selecting the bride’s lehenga. 

As a new strategy, we are focussing in engaging our customers by giving them a window into Meena Bazaar and our collections through digital media. Keeping this in mind, we allow our guests to take in-store pictures wearing Meena Bazaar outfits and encourage them to share it with their family and friends.

Can you please give us details about the current category split in terms of products currently existing at your stores and plans for category expansion (plans to add new category of products).

We have a highly expansive range of traditional ensembles, hence the category split is also quite big. We have a diverse range of collections, from sarees to suits, anarkalis and shararas to lehengas and kurtis. Each of these categories has variant subcategories too, based on the kind of work that is done on them. In terms of expansion, we have further planned to divide our collections in terms of, ‘Ready to wear’, ‘prêt’ and ‘designer wear’. 

What is the location strategy for your stores – malls or high street? Which locations do you prefer? Are you also looking for shop-in-shops? What is the average size of your stores? How much investment goes into setting up each store? 

Over the past decade, we have understood that it’s important to have a mix of both malls and high street stores. Therefore, you’ll see Meena Bazaar stores in both high street and malls across the country. Our stores varying between 800 sq.ft.and 2,000 sq.ft. located in high streets and malls. Our flagship 10,000 sq. feet store at Karol Bagh is our crown jewel. Although our focus is going to be the upcoming state-of-art store on MG Road Gurgaon. 

Brands such as BIBA, AND are performing extremely decent in the ethnic space. Do you see them as your competition? 

We are quite excited with the way ethnic wear market has developed, there are quite a few interesting designers and brands, and its all contributing to the thriving fashion eco-system. At Meena Bazaar we try to feel the pulse of the market by interacting with our customers, and these personalised interactions is what makes us stand out from others. 

How focused are you on e-commerce and what is your e-commerce strategy? What percentage of your revenues comes from e-commerce currently, and what revenue targets do you have from e-commerce over the next few years? What are your future plans regarding e-commerce? Are there any unique initiatives you have taken online (regarding social media, e-commerce, etc.)? How are you leveraging the online space to boost your revenues and customer connect?

We have a very loyal client base which is not limited to India. In order to fulfil the demand for our clothes and to serve our audience better we have launched our website Meenabazaar.com. It is one of the first in our trade to offer COD (cash on delivery), surprise gifting, made-to-measure and worldwide shipping. We are promoting and investing more in our e-commerce platform. 

There are plenty of initiatives we take for connecting with our clients on social media. We have curated a specialised team of people in fields like social media marketing and in-house graphic designers to handle the portal. But the key element we are focusing now is on adding new variety and products online.  How quickly we update stocks in our stores is the way we would ideally want to do it online as well. 

At last, kindly highlight your growth plans for next financial year. How many new stores the company would be looking to open?

Meena Bazaar has 30 stores across India.  We have also entered the untapped markets for like Mumbai and Pune. We are also launching a flagship store in Gurgaon soon. Exploring new territories and adding more talent to the organization is on the list. However, we believe that the store numbers don’t matter, as much as great customer experience.



Sameer Minglani