Mr Rajiv Agarwal, CEO and Director, The MobileStore, elaborates on the company’s services and contribution to the retail industry in an interview to the Retailer
Retailer: What is your professional background?
Rajeev Agarwal (RA): Professionally qualified as a chartered accountant and company secretary, I have over 20 years of experience at senior levels in various sectors such as BPO, oil and gas, telecom, shipping and transportation. I have also served on the Board of Directors of public listed companies in India and the US.
Retailer: When did you start working with the company and what are the challenges in the industry?
RA: I have been with the Essar Group since 1997 and worked in various group businesses as part of the Senior Management Cadre. While steering ahead, The MobileStore has set up 360 outlets across the country within a short span of time. There are challenges of spiraling real-estate rates. Scarcity of trained manpower will continue to be the biggest challenge in the retail industry as retail gets expanded from major metros to smaller towns and cities.
The services industry and overall infrastructure have to develop and keep pace with the retail industry. Also, the pressure on customer service and along with efficiency of logistics would be the maximum as competition increases.
Retailer: What are your priorities on consolidating the market position of The MobileStore?
RA: The MobileStore offers customers the complete telecom solutions - right from mobile phone purchase to the choice of service operators (both prepaid and postpaid connections) including services like mobile exchange and repairs. The stores also offer mobile accessories, entertainment products and value added services including the latest ring tones, wallpapers and games. We have observed that the Indian consumers are always looking for options and variety of brands.
Retailer: What is special about The MobileStore?
RA: The MobileStore format is of a ‘one stop mobile solution shop’ that provides, multi brand handsets, accessories, connections, repairs, VAS etc. all under one single roof. The MobileStore offers telecom customers a superlative world-class shopping experience with its unique ‘all-under-one-roof’ telecom solutions. Besides a wide range of handsets, value-added services and after-sales services are also offered. Another unique feature of The MobileStore is expert guidance on mobile selection and use. The chain ensures quality experience to consumers and is the preferred destination for mobile and mobile accessories shopping.
Retailer: To face competition, what is the strategy followed?
RA: The MobileStore has invested in the state-of-the art IT system for a just-in-time model with stock replenishments happening on a daily basis. We provide the best service to our customers. The organisation we have created is built to last. Also, The MobileStore hosts, from time to time, various deals and offers on products. The rates offered by The MobileStore are competitively fair. In addition to offering guaranteed mobile handsets, we also offer prompt after-sales-services and handset repair facility at ‘The MobileStore’ outlet anywhere in the country.
Retailer: Ho far do you satisfy consumers who are always seeking value-for-money products?
RA: One of our brand values is value-for-money and we deliver it through in-store offers and promotions that we run on an ongoing basis. This also keeps our customers engaged. Our prices are competitive and our customers are assured of quality products and services. The experience we offer is consistent across all the stores. Consumers are provided value for money through better offers, deals and an assurance of lifetime engagement through customer service and loyalty programmes. Organised retail segments give customers the benefit to see and experience products and services.
Retailer: What are you doing to increase the strength of the chain? Is the model company-owned or franchised?
RA: By the end of December 2008, we plan to open about 1,500 stores across various cities and towns of the country.
Currently, our model is solely based on company owned operation. We believe in consistently maintaining high level of customer service, which will happen or be possible only when we have total control over operations.
Retailer: How do you see the future of Indian retail industry?
RA: Retail is India’s largest industry, accounting for over 34 per cent of the country’s GDP. Organised retail is growing at an average of 40 per cent per annum and is the biggest employer after agriculture industry. Growth in retail will lead to development of basic infrastructure like transport and telecom. Demand for connectivity will lead to the development of IT infrastructure. Localisation of products and offerings will fuel growth of other industries, specially food and grocery. Investments in cold chains, containers, airports, warehouses by the retail industry will support other critical categories like food in the development on national and resource utilisation. The industry has emerged as one of the most dynamic and fast paced industries with several players entering the market, which will lead to training and development of skilled people in the country.