Retail Sep, 15 2016

Focused on expanding retail footprint via franchise partners: Prakash Wakankar, BabyOye

In conversation with Franchise India, Prakash Wakankar, Chief Executive Officer at Mahindra Retail Pvt Ltd, shares how he audits his franchisees’ performances.

By Joyshree Saha
Focused on expanding retail footprint via franchise partners: Prakash Wakankar, BabyOye

The kids wear segment or more specifically the mother and child care segment in India is a rapidly evolving segment rife with innovation. Every year there are newer products and services that can make parenting far easier - these are across categories as diverse as maternity apparel, personal care, safety and transport solutions, toys, etc.

The urban market for maternity and child care in India was INR 32,900 crores in 2012 and this has grown to an estimated number of INR 52,400 crores in 2015 as per a study by Ernst & Young. The growth rate for the organised market is 30 per cent and for the largely unorganised market it is about 13 per cent. So the prospects of growth are enormous and are clearly represented in the enormity of this segment.

Tell us in detail about your franchising model.

We have a mix of company owned and franchise owned stores. We are looking at a significant franchise growth which will drive our physical footprint across new geographies.

What criteria do you follow for selecting franchisees on board?

Entrepreneurs and experienced retailers who are ideally willing to personally involve themselves in the business make for the perfect franchisees. Through empowering our partners we reinforce the Mahindra Group’s brand pillars - driving positive change, accepting no limits and challenging conventional thinking and enabling them to rise.

What kind of training and business support do you provide to the franchisees? Elaborate the same.

Mahindra works closely with franchisees on Store Staff Recruitment and organises training programmers on product, operations, IT, technical knowhow, marketing and brand communication and assistance on managing inventory, stocking the right merchandise mix in the store and providing insights and analyses from CRM data that explains customer behaviour at different life stages.

Strategic business meets are held annually to share information on product performance, new product launches, pricing policies, brand communication and marketing strategies, Omni-channel plans and proposals and deployment of new age IT solutions. This event is a platform for franchisees across India to interact with each other and share best practices and arrive at solutions to common challenges.

Do you evaluate the performance of your franchisee? Elaborate how you audit.

We work closely with our franchisees to help them monitor the health of their business. This involves regular visits by the area sales teams, daily sales updates, monitoring of the category mix and adjusting this basis consumption patterns etc. Sharing best practices to enable them to monitor and better their performance.

Typically for an investor who is planning to invest in this sector, what are the factors that he/she should keep in mind?

  • The equity that the brand enjoys within the target segment
  • Long term relationship with the brand
  • Inventory management and related support from the brand
  • Opex / Net Sales ratio
  • His or her time involvement in the business
  • Potential / catchment of the market.

Which are the emerging markets where you want to open up?

Aurangabad, Gaya, Dhanbad, Pathanamthitta, Kollam, Amravatti, Bhiwandi, Jodhpur, Tiruchirapalli, Rangareddy, Aligarh, Moradabad, Sharanpur, Asansol, Durgapur, Itanagar, Jorhat, Dispur, Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Meerut, Hissar, Ambala, Goa and Pondicherry are some of the markets that are on the anvil.

Currently, we have 122 BabyOye stores spread over 52+ cities. Our recently opened stores in cities like Baner-Pune (Maharashtra), Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh), Dimapur (Nagaland), Thrissur (Kerala) are part of our endeavour to penetrate markets panning across Tier 1, Tier 2 and even Tier 3 cities.

At what intervals does your brand offer advertising and marketing support to franchisees?

With a combination of Above the Line and Below the Line activities, we are using all platforms available to publicise the brand. The marketing activities broadly involve Outdoor campaigns with billboards, print media campaigns across leading newspapers and magazines as well as Below the Line activities in stores and malls, etc. We are also going aggressive on our digital platforms with exclusive promotions on the dedicated Carter’s microsite and the BabyOye Mobile App. We are also strongly leveraging our social media properties across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

We also conduct on-ground events within the stores targeted at parents and kids. Some of these include in-store parental sessions, live Kitchens, shutter bug, pot making and tattoo art sessions and contests for Kids, direct mailing campaigns, awareness campaigns at local hospitals etc.

What are your expansion plans?

We are focused on expanding our retail footprint via franchise partners and strengthening our e-commerce proposition and leveraging our consumer insights. We are aggressively expanding our retail footprint via our franchise partners. In fact, we added about 25 franchisees to our store footprint this year (FY 16).

What made you evolve your model from a retail channel to adding a digital platform? Elaborate.

E-commerce and buying through mobile apps is an emerging trend in this segment. We are one of the few players with an omni channel presence (online, offline & mobile app). Together online and offline provide a very strong consumer proposition where offline stores act as concept stores where you can experience our unique range of products. Online stores on the other hand offer flexibility and convenience to time starved young parents.

The online and offline formats have shown significant traction, which is evident in the growing number of franchises we are partnering with every year. Greater penetration into this market segment through a combination of various channels is truly the prospect of growth.

Franchise facts:

  • Total Investment: Approx 40 lacs
  • Existing outlets (company-owned +franchise): 122 BabyOye stores spread over 52+ cities.
  • Required area for opening brand’s franchise: 1000 – 1250 sq ft
  • Target cities for expansion: Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Surat, Ahmedabad, Patna, Pondicherry, Cochin, Itanagar, Raipur, Rajkot, Guwahati
  • Preferred location for opening your brand’s franchise outlet: Metros, mini-metros as well as Tier 1, Tier 2 and even Tier 3 cities.
  • Year of starting franchise operations: 2012
  • Year of inception: 2007

Related: Revealing The Inner Secrets Via Franchising

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