Amit Ladsaria, Director, Turtle Ltd, can be known as the ‘guiding force’ behind the success of his well-known retail menswear apparels company. In a span of 17 years, the company has become one of the foremost retail entities in the country.
Abha Garyali (AG): Tell us something about the origin, growth and success of ‘Turtle’? When, where and how did it originate?
Amit Ladsaria (AL): Turtle is a 15-year-old company which started its operations in the year 1993. In anticipation of a boom in the readymade garment industry, Turtle was started mainly to cater to the needs of in-house retail stores. In the initial days, we faced many challenges. We started with a capital of Rs 40,000, while we had no manufacturing experience and almost no market knowledge. Initially, we commenced our operations from Howrah Stores as we could not afford a suitable premises. The other challenges that confronted us were sky-high property rentals and lack of mall management experience. Turtle won over all the problems and obstacles sheer by hard work and determination. We have always been quality conscious and have tried hard to deliver the best to our customers.
AG: What difference have you noticed in the performance of the company after you opted for franchising?
AL: We started out with the franchisee model way back in 2004; we have since then opened about 40 showrooms till now. We opened our first company-run showroom last year, and are operating about 5-6 stores on our own now. We are happy with the franchisee model, and the performances of the stores are up to the mark. We are also on a 15-20 per cent growth rate in our showrooms from last year.
AG: What is the eligibility criterion for taking the franchisee of ‘Turtle’?
AL: When we explored for a franchisee, we searched for a local entrepreneur who would be willing to run the store personally. We expect complete franchisee involvement in the business, be it in inventory, merchandising, store VM or sales targets. We allow the franchisee the freedom of stock selection and replenishments, as we feel the local franchisee knows the best about the nerve of that particular market. We do not want to get involved with the investors, who would setup and invest in the store, but won’t monitor it regularly, at least on weekly basis.
AG: How many franchisees do you have and in which all cities?
AL: We currently have about 20 franchisees across India, in cities like Kolkata, Guwahati, Jabalpur, Jaipur, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Cuttack, Surat, Ahmedabad, Gorakhpur etc.
AG: What all training and support do you provide to the franchisees?
AL: We have detailed in-store software and VM training at the time of store opening, after which we hold training sessions at the Head-Office in Kolkata, twice annually, where we have professional trainers coming from the Future Group to train all our sales team members.
AG: How much investment is required by an aspiring franchisee in terms of money, time, and dedication?
AL: The investment requirement depends on the store area and the location of the particular store. But an initial investment of 15-20 lakh is required to setup a full- fledged store operation. As mentioned, we expect the franchisee to be personally involved in the business and drive both inventory and sales at the store.
AG: What is the break even period for a ‘Turtle’ franchise?
AL: The break-even period for a franchisee depends on lot of factors, such as the store area, the rentals etc, but normally a franchisee should break even within one to two years of store operations.
AG: What are the company’s future plans for expansion through franchising?
AL: The company is open to both, company-run and franchisee model stores, and takes a call on store-to-store basis for the same. We plan to open another 50 exclusive stores in the next 2 years.