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Nov, 20 2009

Book retail, rich returns

If reading is your passion and you enjoy the leisure time people spend in reading and gaining knowledge you are in to fulfil your dream and become a proud owner of a bookstore.

Rs 3,000 crore book retail industry

As per the research firm, Technopak’s, estimates, the book retail industry is over Rs 3,000 crore. Out of this, only seven per cent of the market is organised. Experts estimate the market to grow at approximately 15 per cent YOY Basis.

With the rise of bookstores like Crossword, Oxford, Landmark, Corner BookStore, Book Café, the market has taken an organised shape, and with it, the book retail industry has gained a special place in the industry.

Offering add-on services is what many of the bookstores are aiming at. Companies like Oxford have a Cha Bar to offer to its book lovers. On the other side, Book Café is exploring options of co-branding the bookstore with Salons.

The story of Oxford Bookstore began over 80 years ago in the Park Street in Calcutta. In 1995, to commemorate its platinum anniversary, the store was recreated as Oxford Bookstore – Gallery by Apeejay Surrendra Group. It became a contemporary, multidimensional experience, in keeping with the international trends offering well-stocked, well-researched book sections, India's first Alternative Art Gallery and top-of-the-line amenities and services.

Franchise Fraction

Bookstore retail picked up pace in India as a niche but exciting segment to get into. On its product segment, S.N. Mishra, COO, Apeejay Oxford Bookstores Pvt Ltd,. says, “Audio visual is witnessing the highest growth in our product mix. Still books contribute the largest part in our revenue pie. We are targeting an over 20 per cent share by introducing new products, change in product/category mix and launching more number of stores (owned and franchisee store).”

Oxford Bookstore today has operations in Kolkata, Mumbai, Bangalore, New Delhi, Chennai, Coimbatore, Cuttack, Goa, Shillong, Amritsar, Guwahati, Dimapur, Siliguri, Ranchi, Jaipur, Bhubaneshwar, Amritsar, Faridabad and Hyderabad.

Companies like Oxford engage in a lot of customer engagement activities by conducting a variety of events like book launches, discussions, theatre, music events, exhibitions, etc.

Courting his experience with franchising, Mishra excludes, “In 2006, we were having only eight owned stores. To have pan India presence at a faster pace, we thought of a robust expansion plan. We designed a franchise model and in December 2006, started our first franchise store at Shillong. Now, we have 19 franchise stores across India and nine own stores.”

Crossword, country’s leading leisure and entertainment products chain, selling books, music, gifts, toys and games, has 55 bookstores at present. The company runs its stores on both company owned as well as franchised model.

To serve the best merchandising mix to its customers, Oxford has adopted two layers of merchandising, regional and national. Separate teams take care of the whole procurement process. Oxford facilitates prospective franchisees in searching for the best property and location for the store. At these properties, Oxford negotiates on behalf of the franchisee with regards to the terms and conditions.

Word of wisdom

Organised retail in India is still in the initial stages and book industry started expanding only in the last 10 years. At present, the market is still untapped and unexplored, so the competition is not so hard as compared to any other industry. The sector can yield great returns in the long run.

Before taking up the franchise, it is important to look out for a suitable location. If you can enjoy the pressure of this business, this can turn out to be pure leisure for you.

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