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Jun, 07 2014

Western biggies on a winning streak

They started their entrepreneurial expedition from the western region of India and now they are well-accepted brands there. Is it the unique selling proposition, or the qualitative service, that sets them apart from other national brands? Take a quick loo

Apart from international and national brands, you will be surprised to see plenty of regionally famous brands that are leading incredibly in their territory or city. For the first time ever, The Franchising World has gone an extra mile to cover the real heroes who are away from the limelight yet are renowned in their province. Western region of India has been regarded as one of the most prolific and feasible propeller for business growth. The major states that contribute to western region growth trajectory include Maharashtra and Gujarat. And for this, all credit goes to the existing brands that have a powerful connect with their target customers. From food and beverage to apparel, education or any other retail brand, you will find brands surplus catering to every segment. Another striking factor is growing breed of entrepreneurs who are ready to get into business.  The franchising model has now become a buzzword among many enterprising entrepreneurs and existing brands that aspire to double their network by spreading their horizon across other unexplored parts of the country.

Local leaders

Western region is brimming with horde of opportunities as entrepreneurial activity is burgeoning at a colossal pace. There is no dearth of talent in a well diversified country like ours. Take a quick look at the regional brands that have been powerful in their territory and now looking to spread their wings to new locations with varied customer mindset.

= In the quick service restaurant segment, Jumboking specializes in retailing its sumptuous vada pavs.  The USP of Jumboking is ‘On the Go’ snacks specially designed keeping in mind the mass population and their urgency to have the quick bite on the move.


= Natural Ice Cream started its journey in Ice cream industry way back in 1984. Currently, the brand has 116 stores of 114 are franchise outlets.

= In the cakes & pastries segment, Monginis brand originated when two Italian brothers had set up a catering firm in south Mumbai. It was in 1971 when a plan of having an exclusive franchise cake shop was conceptualised by H.T.Khorakiwala.

= Marshalls Wallpaper is head-quartered at Mumbai and retailed in Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore, Pune, Surat and Vapi from its proprietary stores and across the country by 600+ dealers.

= JadeBlue Lifestyle India Ltd is one of leading premium lifestyle retail stores for men. The brand started its journey from Ahmedabad in 1995. It is known for the breadth and depth of exclusive clothing, fashion merchandise, bespoke tailoring and personalised services. The company has 18 stores spanning across 15 cities.

= Mumbai based-Your Fitness Club (YFC) is operational since 2009 and decided to get into franchising in 2013. Currently, it operates 15 gyms in India.

= florista is a growing professional flower retailer and is now present in Mumbai, Gurgaon, Allahabad, Bangalore, Mangalore, Pune, Nagpur, Ahmedabad and Vapi. The company has successful network partners in the entire country for delivery of flowers in India and has partners outside India for global deliveries.

= The Shoe Laundry, the professional footwear laundry and refurbishing service for all types of footwear, started its operations in Mumbai in 2003.

= Pune's Chitale Bandhu is a dominant sweet and snacks retailer with 11 franchise outlets in the city.

On the way to national glory

Before stepping out from one's comfort zone to make an ingress to unexplored destinations for retailing brand's products, it is important for regional brands to focus on the market that they are looking to create in their vicinity first, and the assess the feasibility of their brand in other viable locations for expansion.  Executing the proposed expansion plan entails a rigorous market research as per location or market.

Commenting on what actually motivated them to branch out to newer locations, a famous F&B franchisor, Jumboking's Founder, Dheeraj Gupta says: “We decided to expand beyond our city about two years back. The important aspects we had to decide on were  Understanding how the product will be positioned say in a city like Bangalore and how will our supply chain work, which is the back bone of national expansion.” On the expansion front, Jumbo King is planning to expand in States of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat. We already have our plans to open stores in Ahmedabad, Surat, Chennai, Coimbatore, Nagpur, Jaipur, Delhi (North-East) and Goa very soon. At the moment, Jumbo King operates 60 outlets across 18 cities.

By creating a revolution in ice-cream industry, Mumbai's Natural Ice Cream decided to reach out to masses in 1994. Today the brand has a presence throughout Mumbai and other cities like Pune, Nagpur, Bangalore, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Indore, Raipur, Goa, Kochi and Mangalore. Commenting on extending their reach, R S Kamath, Founder, Natural Ice Cream, says: “Yes, we are planning to expand to Northern and Eastern States in cities like Delhi/NCR, Chandigarh and Kolkata.” On commenting about the most feasible route for brand expansion, he says: “It's a mix of single and multi-unit franchisees. In small cities, we go with single and bigger cities like Mumbai and Bangalore, we have multi-unit.” 

To maintain brand's standards and deliver best customer service, Natural Ice Cream has an in-house training centre to train managers and their staff. R S Kamath says: “When we receive customer complaints, the solution and our feedback is shared to all stores so they are aware of the issues and can deal with them efficiently. We have annual meetings for managers and staff where they are awarded and rewarded for their performances. We have regional area managers who provide training and support on regular basis.”

A specialty retail brand of west also has expansion plans.  Smriti Dalvi, Founder, Florista, says: “We will take the total count of our stores to 45. The franchised stores will be spread across Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Goa and Cochin and we may consider engaging master franchisees for northern region of India.”

Customise to accustomise the regional flavour

Customising one's product or brand's offering is the way to go for local brands that are planning to go national. At the same time, it's also one of the biggest challenges for brands that are looking to strengthen position in other regions as well because in India, every state or region has a different consumer mindset. So, adding that local flavor in one's brand becomes quintessential for regional players that look ahead to target new locations. A thorough market analysis is equally important to understand what modifications they need to do in their brand's offerings before opening a store in a new location.  Customer is king in all businesses. So, woo your target customers by adding a tinge of local flavor in your brand and strategize right pricing.

Certainly, every brand witnesses a challenging situation when expanding to uncharted market but, winner is the one who masters the art of overcoming it effortlessly. For Jumbo King, Frozen Logistics was the biggest challenge to maintain the standard taste nationally.  Dheeraj Gupta notifies: “To overcome this issue, we have SDS as our logistic partner who takes care of our frozen product right from manufacturing unit till delivery of the same to the store at any location pan India.” Adding about hiccups in their industry, R S Kamath informs: “Identifying a good location and skilled labor remains the biggest challenge. To overcome it, we have recently tied with real estate experts who provide insights on real estate and key locations.”

Born in west, national leaders

They started their journey from west and now they are called the nationally recognised big shots.   The brands that are west born but have eventually taken over the national market include  Mahindra First Choice Wheels Pvt Ltd (MFCWL), Lakme Beauty Salon, Raymond's, Siyaram's, Vidyalankar, Jawed Habib Hair & Beauty Salon, Talwalkars Hi Fi, Leena Mogre's Fitness, Vadilal Industries Ltd, Crossword Bookstores and many more.

Lakme Salon prefers both single -unit and multi-unit franchise route for expansion. Pushkaraj Shenai, CEO, Lakmé Lever, adds: “We are looking to expand mainly in the north and west of India.” To make sure that all outlets run effectively, Lakme Beauty Salon has a captive training infrastructure that provides training benefits to its employees which includes new operators training, innovations and skills up gradation training. All employees undergo a significant amount of training every month.

Another Mumbai-based salon chain  Jawed Habib Hair & Beauty Ltd (JHHBL), is operating 414 franchise outlets across 92 cities of India and present internationally with outlets in Dubai, Singapore and London. Confirming about their expansion plans, Jawed Habib, Chairman, Jawed Habib Hair & Beauty Salon, says: “We are currently expanding specially in non-metro cities. Small towns and cities are of great potential due to the influence of westernization. Ideally at Jawed Habib, we follow the master franchisee route. Our partners need local/regional support which is sometimes not possible due to geographical limitations. A master franchisee is ideally a local who can provide support to unit franchisees at all levels. He is a mirror organisation of the franchisor. All systems, logistics, trainings, support staff and other needs are taken care by the master franchisee of the said territory. This ensures complete support to all our stakeholders and enables robust expansion.”

Crossword Bookstores from the west currently has 89 stores across the country. In terms of business opportunity, Kinjal Shah, CEO, Crossword Bookstores, informs: “Crossword Bookstores is expanding to tier II and tier III cities where there are no organised bookstores and have plans to add nine new stores by end of 2014.”

In the pre-owned car segment, Mahindra First Choice Wheels Limited is regarded as a national franchisor with presence across 208 cities in tier I, II and III towns. The brand is presently operating through multi-unit franchisee and will follow the same model for the coming fiscal years. “In the current fiscal year, we will be consolidating our presence across these towns with multiple outlets. We have a plan to expand to 500+ outlets by 2016 across tier-I, II and III cities,” confirms Yatin Chadha, Senior Vice-President- Retail Business, Mahindra First Choice Wheels Limited.


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