Leading players in ethnic wear for ladies with more than three decades of rich experience, Ashika Fashionwear is redefining style trends in women’s wear. Saurabh Agarwal, MD, Ashika Fashionwear shares the success story of his company.
Abha Garyali (AG): Please shed some light on the origin, growth and success of ‘Ashika Fashionwear’.
Saurabh Agarwal (SA): Ashika Group with its humble beginning in 1975 has become the pioneer in ladies’ ethnic wear. Ashika Fashionwear, a retail arm of the Ashika Group, was introduced in 2000, and started franchising in 2008. Backed by the promoters with over three decades of experience, the brand has steadily grown from three stores to 30 stores in less than two years.
AG: What is the USP of ‘Ashika Fashionwear’?
SA: The main USP is the wide range of products in various categories like sarees, dress materials, and readymade suits and kurtis – all this is at a highly affordable price without any compromise on the quality. Such a wide range is difficult to find in any other organised retail market at present.
AG: When did you start franchising? From where did you get the inspiration to opt for franchising as a mode of expansion?
SA: We began franchising a couple of years back. This concept is a hit amongst both the brands and investors and is a win-win situation for the stakeholders. The brands get a good foothold in terms of expansion in number of stores and the investors can nurture their entrepreneurial dreams while investing in a good brand and sharing the risk to a great extent.
AG: What qualities do you look for in your prospective franchisees?
SA: All potential franchisees should possess sound business acumen and the hunger for generating sales. We firmly believe in doing good business through hard work and sound planning. If they already are running franchisees and have the knowledge of products, then that can be an added advantage.
AG: How many franchisees do you have and in which cities?
SA: We have around 25 franchisees operating in cities like Indore, Jabalpur, Shivpuri, New Delhi, Bellary etc. Ten more such stores are in the pipeline and will be operational in the coming weeks. Along with this we are looking to open company-owned stores mainly in Mumbai.
AG: What are your future plans in terms of expansion through franchising?
SA: We have plans to take our store count to 200 by end of 2011. This will be a mix of company and franchisees-owned outlets.
AG: What training and support do you provide to your franchisees?
SA: We provide training and support in form of HR recruitment, HR training, HR support, software training, product training, advertisement support and stock support.
AG: What is the break-even period for the franchisee?
SA: Even in the worst case scenario, the franchisee should break even in 14-18 months.
AG: What are the challenges that can be faced by franchisees in this business? How can they overcome these challenges?
SA: The biggest challenge is that this market is predominantly traditional and setting it up in an organised environment is an uphill task. The only way to overcome this is to trust the experienced minds and develop strategies which will slowly and steadily accommodate the current synergies between the old and the new.