In conversation with Ajit Joshi, President and Chief Operating Officer, Urban Ladder, who spoke about his future plans with the company.
Few days ago, Urban Ladder appointed industry veteran Ajit Joshi as President and Chief Operating Officer. He joined the brand with an expertise of over 30 years in the industry. He was previously the CEO and MD of Croma - A Tata Enterprise. He also led operations and institutional sales business for Shopper’s Stop as Vice President Operations. He spoke candidly to Franchise India on his new beginning and how is he planning franchise operations ahead for Urban Ladder.
How do you plan to add value to Urban Ladder with your previous expertise gained in Croma and names like Shoppers Stop?
We at Urban Ladder are on a mission to make a million Indian homes beautiful. Within this mission, I will scale the strategic retail growth of our offline formats and will oversee the expansion of the Urban Interiors network. I will focus on marrying Urban Ladder’s online and offline channels, to create the best possible retail experience in India. I will be working with the UL team to create delightful customer engagements and interactions at our experience centres across the country. My retail experience with Croma and Shopper’s Stop has enriched my understanding of the Indian customer, immensely. I hope to apply and share some of those learnings with Urban Ladder and further their customer-first approach to business.
What are your views on franchise model? What plans do you have for Urban Ladder’s expansion via this route?
The franchise model is an effective retail strategy when scaling a brand, however, at this time we want to focus on building an unparalleled customer experience and perfecting our existing offline channels. We will be opening several more centres across Bangalore, Delhi, and Mumbai over the next fiscal. Meanwhile, we are also weighing in on prospective distribution channels including a franchise model.
What business opportunity Urban Ladder holds for prospective investors/partners?
Urban Ladder has an incredible value proposition built on design and trust. Its strong online presence, optimized supply chain, and consistent year-on-year growth make it a leading choice for industry partners and investors. As the Urban Ladder brand expands its distribution and comes closer to realizing its vision of making a million homes beautiful, the focus on building trust will be of the utmost importance with regard to partners, investors, and customers. Therein lies the business opportunity to be associated with a brand that has a great product offering, a successful business model, and an unchallenged NPS score.
Do you think growth via online route is a better medium for franchise brands to expand across India?
A successful business must be future-proofed. Presently, e-commerce still has some time to go before it becomes the preferred mode of retail in India however; we expect that will change in the near future. What we are seeing globally is that the confluence of online and offline creates a winning experience for the customer and delivers ROI on the distribution channel. As a successful online brand, Urban Ladder has established that there is an audience that favours online shopping. However, for a brand, it is absolutely imperative that it reaches a certain scale to be self-sustained and top-of mind for consumers. When Urban Ladder started five years ago, the online furniture market was zero. The needle has moved marginally in the right direction and the market is now at 2%. Urban Ladder’s ambitions far exceed the growth of the category, and hence offline retail is as important to expand as is its online presence. Both mediums are effective if they deliver a seamless experience across channels.