Retail Feb, 27 2012

Opportunity purified for success

By Neha Gohil
Opportunity purified for success

With patented technology comprising of four different mantras in one purifier – RO, UF, UV and TDS Controls Kent RO is aiming to provide pure water to Indians since 1999. In an interview Mahesh Gupta, Chairman, KENT RO Systems Ltd shares his success journey and further expansion plans.

Neha Gohil (NG): Shed some light on your entrepreneurial journey.

Mahesh Gupta (MG):  For me it was a one man show, as I was all alone and had no back up or guidance from anyone. In the beginning it was a challenging but exciting at the same time. The journey which I started from a small garage, now has carved its own niche. With an investment of mere Rs 20,000 I had sown the seeds of KENT RO. And it was the year 1999 that proved to be a turning point in my life, when I laid the foundation of Kent RO Systems by inventing a water purifier based on Reverse Osmosis Technology. Kicked off from the voyage of self made RO system, KENT has today stamped its supremacy on all its competitors by inventing and introducing the ultimate technological marvels in the market.

NG: What is the USP of KENT?

MG: Although we are the pioneers of bringing RO technology in India, few other brands are also adding to the concept. But it’s not necessary that every Indian home need just an RO based technology, as opting a particular technology is totally dependent on the kind of water contaminations. The distinguishing factor which will take us to the pinnacle and allow us deal with the unorganised sector is our own patented technology comprising of four different mantras in one purifier – RO, UF, UV and TDS Controls, which caters to all the problems consecutively.

Earlier, people were not aware of such technology but now they know the benefits of such a patented technology which only KENT has. This very fact gives us immense power to lead our competition whether it is from organised or unorganised sector.

NG:  Why and when did you take up the franchise route for expansion?

MG: KENT has presence in multi brand stores with a widespread distribution network but why we realised the need to enter the direct marketing retail model is that the shopkeeper sitting in a multi-brand store is a ‘quick seller’ and he would not spend time giving information about our products in the way and we desire to reach the target audience and make the life of the people safe and healthy. These products are not commodities. Our idea is to put the array of products in the store and let consumer have the experience and know about the new innovative range to make their life healthier.

NG: How has franchising helped the brand so far in achieving its target?

MG: Although we are reaching our consumers through our wide spread distribution network, but to give them a personalised feeling we came up with our exclusive outlets where they are able to choose their own preferable product with the experts guidance. This has really helped us in sorting out the customers queries and reaching out the right audience.

NG: Presently how many franchisees do you have? What are your further expansion plans via franchising?

MG: With wide retail presence in 50 cities, KENT has 50 outlets till date, out of which two are company owned and 48 are franchisee owned.  As per our plan, we will be opening 200 franchise outlets called as KENT Shoppes. Most of our future outlets will work on the franchise model. We are targeting state capitals and the major cities for future Shoppes including Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Bhatinda, Patiala, Panipat, Rohtak, Hisar, Ambala, Jammu, Jaipur, Udaipur, Noida, Lucknow and many others like Patna, Ranchi, Kolkata, Siliguri, Darjeeling, Guwahati etc. We are investing around Rs 10 lakh on the set up and Rs 5-6 lakh on interiors for each store.

As other locations are important, so is the NCR region. Catering to the needs and requirements of NCR region, Kent is coming up with solutions which would help people to overcome different water problems. We will be coming up with exclusive KENT Shoppes in NCR. The stores would be spread over 200-500 sq. ft in major markets where there are high footfalls specifically all the major markets Ghaziabad, Noida, Faridabad and Gurgaon.

NG: How much area and investment will a franchisee require?

MG: We have set a criteria for the alliance that franchisee is required to invest an amount ranging between Rs 5 –10 lakh to maintain the adequate stock. Then secondly, the franchisee is expected to bear the entire cost of interior designing. The cost is expected to be Rs 1200/-per sq. ft amounting to around Rs 5 lakh. This cost will be reimbursed to the franchisee in 36 EMIs by KENT.

NG: Is it a lucrative business venture. What are your views on it?

MG: Given the increasing awareness and largely untapped market potential, the sector is expected to grow at rapid pace. The reason behind is the decreasing quality of water with dissolved impurities and its hazardous effects on health. As water is the essence of life in the same way purifying it is essential for the sake of hygiene and health. This has given rise to the instant demand of water purifiers in the domestic market. Indian market has tremendous potential and this is also evident from the fact that other few players have also stepped in this segment.

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