In order to show case the creations of Indian craftsmen, and folk artists, Central Cottage Industries has created a niche in India and abroad. In an interview, Dr. M A Ibrahimi, Managing Director, Central Cottage Industries Corporation of India (CCIC), talks about the future plans and aspirations of the company.
Abha Garyali (AG): Share with us the inception and success of ‘CCIC’.
MA Ibrahimi (MAI): CCIC was set up with a view to provide marketing support to the poor artisans, craft persons of India. CCIC established itself as a leading retail showroom for high quality handicrafts and handloom products. The first showroom of CCIC in New Delhi was set up in 1952. The business was expanded to other cities in stages. Today, CCIC has showrooms in New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Chennai. Further, CCIC has franchise showrooms in various cities, nationally and internationally.
AG: What is the USP of ‘CCIC’?
MAI: CCIC has the finest collection of fine Indian handicrafts and handlooms products from all over the country. The range of products includes handlooms, saris, woodcraft, brassware, artifacts, accessories, shawls, carpets, jewellery, furniture, ready-to-wear, gift articles etc.
CCIC’s collection is unique in terms of design and exclusivity. CCIC has its own in-house design cell which introduces new designs and new products as per the market needs. CCIC has over the years developed a large number of craft persons, who are the backbone of CCIC’s business. Quality of CCIC’s handlooms and handicrafts products are the bench marks for retail industry in India.
AG: When did you start franchising? From where did you get the inspiration to opt for franchising as a mode of expansion?
MAI: CCIC has started opening showrooms on franchise basis in 2004. It became necessary to diversify the retail business in an expansion mode to reach the handicrafts and handlooms products amongst a large number of domestic customers as well as tourists. Therefore, CCIC took upon itself to open showrooms to tap other markets in public private partnership basis.
AG: The company has started international franchising recently. What were the major reasons for this development?
MAI: CCIC’s products are purchased by a large number of foreign tourists visiting India. They have shared that there is a large potential for Indian handicrafts in their countries. CCIC has also been participating in overseas fairs and exhibitions. CCIC has identified a good market place for their products in these countries. This has led to the opening of overseas franchise showrooms.
CCIC has also developed a policy for overseas franchise development. The company however is very careful in selection of the franchise partners. The first overseas franchise showroom of CCIC was opened in Copenhagen in 2009.
AG: What all qualities are needed by your prospective franchisees?
MAI: The prospective franchise partner should preferably have some retailing experience in that country. He needs to have good knowledge of the rules and laws of importing from India. He should have good showroom space in a commercial area for achieving the desired sales turnover. CCIC will expect the franchise partner to have a good financial background. The partner will have an advantage if he has some familiarity with Indian culture and crafts.
AG: How many franchisees do you have and in which all cities in India and abroad?
MAI: CCIC has franchise showrooms in Gurgaon, Patna, Bodh Gaya and Rajgir. CCIC’s only overseas franchise showroom till now is located in Copenhagen, Denmark.
AG: What are your future plans in terms of expansion through franchising?
MAI: CCIC plans to open more showrooms on franchise basis in major metropolitan cities of India. CCIC is planning to open showrooms in Pune, Ahmedabad, Secunderabad, Kochi, Thiruvanathapuram and other important cities. CCIC also has plans to open showrooms on franchise basis in Japan and New Zealand.
AG: What training and support do you provide to your franchisees?
MAI: CCIC believes in partnering with franchise wholeheartedly to make the arrangement a success. CCIC believes that product knowledge of the Indian handicraft and handlooms are very important to market the products. CCIC provides selling and product knowledge related training to the employees and executives of the franchise partners. CCIC can also organise visits to craft centres for gaining exposure in various crafts.
AG: What are the challenges that can be faced by a franchisee in this business? How can they overcome these challenges?
MAI: The retail market is subjected to fluctuations in the tourist levels security perception of the country. The franchisee has to be prepared for such economic ups and downs as some risks are part of any business preposition.