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Specialty retail 2009-12-07

A gift for your loved ones

By Abha Garyali Sub Editor

Feelings are the complex behaviour of mankind and expressing our feelings had never been so easy without Archies. With greeting cards, gifts, soft toys,and accessories the Archies Limited are the pioneers in India.  In an interview with FIHL Vijayant Chabbra, ED, Archies Limited shares his company’s success and future plans.

Abha Garyali (AG): Tell us something about the origin, growth and success of Archies Limited.

Vijayant Chabbra (VC): Archies Limited is 30 years old company. We started our journey with a humble beginning. In the initial stages, we were a poster company, and slowly graduated to song book. After some time, we entered the concept of greeting cards. Within short span of time we ventured into gift items. Our transition show that we have grown slowly but steadily. The basic concept of Archies was visualised by Anil Mulchandani, who is still actively involved in the business as the Managing Director.

AG: When did you start franchising? From where did you get the inspiration to opt for franchising as a mode of expansion?

VC: We started franchising around 20 years back. In the first 10 years, we focused only on multi-brand outlets. The concept of greeting cards and gifts shops was doing brisk business abroad. So we thought of getting a replica in India also. We started company owned showrooms in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru etc. Later we felt that it was not the right route for our massive expansion plans. There was the problem of lack of funds and even acquiring properties at different locations was not easy  20 years down the line. Moreover, many aspiring entrepreneurs were approaching us. Therefore, we started franchising and through franchising we were able to spread our concept across India.

AG: What difference have you noticed in the performance of the company after opting franchising?

VC: The company has grown tremendously after franchising. We owe our total success and brand popularity to the franchisees. We had our limitations and were restricted to open six to seven outlets only. Therefore, the real growth of the company has come only through franchising.

AG: What is the USP of Archies?

VC: Customers are the right people to answer this. We try our best to make it work. We are working hard and try to give the best products and services to the customers. We keep our prices reasonable to make it comfortable to customers. Our ambience in all stores is excellent. Along with keeping the customers satisfied we take good care of our franchisees also. It’s not just one factor rather various steps taken to help a business run successfully..

AG: What qualities do you look in prospective franchisees for your company?

VC: In retail, location is considered the most important factor. But we believe that, the person you share your brand name with is equally important. We at Archies, look for people who understand the business, are personally involved and enjoy doing it. A person should not just aim for reaping benefits but should enjoy serving customers and feel pleasure in the concept of greeting cards and gifts.

AG: How many franchisees do you have and in which all cities in India?

VC: We have over 400 franchisees in more than 300 cities across India. We have our stores spread in all metro cities as well as in smaller cities and towns. Our stores are spread from North in Ladkah,  and Srinagar to Chennai in South

AG: What all training and support do you provide to the franchisees?

VC: Running an Archies gallery is not difficult. A franchisee can pick it up fast. We need around 45 days for developing the interiors of the shop. During this time, we make the franchisee understand the business. We make him visit the best showrooms of Archies and train him in various aspects involved in running the business. At the opening time a team of five to seven of our experienced employees accompanies him to the location. Moreover, we leave one or two people at the location for a week to guide him initially. With the advancement of various modes of communication, the franchisees can keep in touch  with us at any point of time.

AG: How much investment is required by an aspiring franchisee?

VC: There are two types of franchise concepts. They are:

  • Paper Rose Shop: To run a paper-o-shop a franchisee needs an area of around 200 to 500 sq feet and an investment of Rs Seven to Eight lakh.
  • Archies Gallery- For taking Archies Gallery an aspiring franchisee needs approximately 500 to 1000 sq feet area and Rs 12 to 15 lakh of investment. This includes everything including furniture, fixtures etc.

AG: What are your future plans in terms of expansion through franchising?

VC: We have aggressive plans for our expansion. We had put up a stall at the FIHL event in Delhi and got 250 to 300 enquiries. Some of them were serious while others were not. We hope to get five to 10 franchisees through the events. We plan to add around 25 franchisees to our network every year and increase this number as well.

AG: What are the challenges that can be faced by a franchisee in this business? How can they overcome these challenges?

VC: The major challenge for the company as well as for the franchisees is the high rentals of all malls and high streets. It has become extremely difficult to get properties at prime locations. We assist the franchisees in selecting right locations at reasonable prices.

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