One of the pioneers in the concept of organised jewellery retail via franchise route in India is Gitanjali Jewels Ltd. In an interview, Santosh Shrivastava, MD, Gitanjali Jewels Ltd shares the success and future growth of the brand.
Abha Garyali (AG): Share with us the inception, growth and success of ‘Gitanjali Jewels Ltd’.
Santosh Shrivastava (SS): The first store of Gitanjali Jewels was established in January 2007 in Bengaluru followed by stores in Dehradun, Kanpur and Indore. With four stores in the beginning, we added 14 more stores by 2008. At present, we have 52 stores. Gitanjali Jewels has pan India presence with more concentration in northern India. The company has been awarded the best Jewellery Multi Brand Outlet (MBO) by Retail Jewellery India Award in 2009.
AG: What inspired you to take the franchise route for expansion?
SS: There are reasons for choosing franchise model. Increasing interest by investors, and moreover company’s main objective to have pan India presence motivated us to take the franchise route. Investors are attracted to the idea of offering the entire portfolio under one roof; offering a wider range of products catering to various income groups.
AG: Gold prices are on record high. Does it affect the jewellery sales in the franchise arena?
SS: Though gold prices are at an all time high and continue to rise but gold purchase increases every year. India has exhibited a 20-25 per cent increase in jewellery sales over the last year. Viable factors for this is that Indians still buy jewellery not just as an accessory, but also as an investment. Moreover, weddings and other festive occasions still influence the demand for jewellery. With the introduction of light weight jewellery (18 carat), customers prefer to buy it rather than the traditional gold jewellery.
AG: What is the USP of Gitanjali?
SS: We have the following USP’s:
AG: Do you think that franchising has played an important role for the growth and success of Gitanjali? How do you think so?
SS: Yes, the franchise model has enabled Gitanjali Jewels to establish a strategic presence in almost all markets pan India by continuous growth in retail operations and expanding market penetration for branded jewellery.
AG: How many franchisees do you have at present? What are your future plans for expansion?
SS: The company has around 52 stores. Our future plans include opening 25 - 30 new stores in cities like Patna, Nagpur, Bhavnagar, Delhi, Cochin, Trivandrum, Mumbai, Belgaum and Pune. Gitanjali Jewels aims to increase the number of stores from 52 to 100 by the end of 2011.
AG: What are the qualities and qualifications that you seek for in your franchisees? How much investment is required by aspiring franchisees?
SS: Franchisees need to have a strong financial background and zero criminal records. However, prior experience in jewellery industry is not an essential factor, as Gitanjali Jewels provide support and adequate training to all its franchisees. Investment may range from Rs two to five crore, depending on the store size and city.
AG: What support and training do you provide to your franchisees?
SS: An induction programme is held for our franchisees where they are given intensive product, sales, and operations training. Training is also provided to the store staff by a team of special trainers. Training to staff includes product knowledge, communication skills, current schemes offered by the company etc. Gitanjali Jewels additionally supports its franchisees by providing store designing and layout, visual merchandising, timely delivery of stocks, operational and technical know how, product and retailing training. We also provide marketing support in terms of print and television advertising. We have celebrity visits in our stores pan India.
AG: What are the challenges that can be faced by a franchisee of ‘Gitanjali’? How can they overcome these challenges?
SS: Primary challenges that a franchisee may face are competition from local jewellers, counterfeit designs with lower purity and delay in delivery of required stocks. These challenges can be overcome by the franchisees through adequate support from Gitanjali jewels. We maintain the superiority of Gitanjali Jewels’ brands by continuously monitoring and conducting research on trends and standards within each brand’s competitive set. We give commitment to outstanding service levels for franchisees, which includes timely delivery of stock so as to help maximize the value of the system and maintain a competitive edge.