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Having started from one store, Saffron lifestyle today has reached to 75 stores in nine years. In an interaction with Joyshree Saha, HITESH VASWANI, Owner/MD, Saffron Lifestyle shares his journey so far
What inspired you to take the franchise of Saffron Lifestyle?
Since the age of 17, I always fascinated towards retail and working with international brands was my dream. The idea of fashionable clothes, having my own retail store, the retail industry, store operation, visual merchandising and inventory detailing was the area of interest. So, Saffron lifestyle was formed 18 years back. Since then, we have added many international brands under our portfolio.
How do you foresee the fashion industry?
Fashion industry or retail is one of the booming industries in India. It brings a lot of opportunities to explore this fabulous industry in different markets and different working conditions. Thanks to the growth of realty industry, this has shown many brands and entrepreneurs a vision that they never thought of earlier. With new brands entering India, the competition is going to get stiff and brands with prickly pricing and best customer experience will succeed. Everyone dreams of growing and expanding at a fast speed that is why we have taken a big leap into retailing in Gujarat and Mumbai.
How has been your journey so far?
Our journey so far is very good. We started this business with an exclusive store of Nike, and then in 1998 we were the first ones to bring Levi's store in Gujarat. Then Saffron traders took up franchise for Motorola (growing mobile brand in Ahmadabad). In 2009, we signed up with United colors of Benetton for nine stores. Again in 2010, Saffron Lifestyle Traders Private Limited has signed with Tommy Hilfiger brand. This growth has enabled us to become the largest master franchisee for Levi's, Benetton and Tommy Hilfiger across Western India. Saffron ended the financial year 2009-2010 with a turnover of 23 crore, growth of 70 per cent from preceding year. Now, Saffron has 75 stores under its umbrella.
What is your mantra to be a successful franchisee?
To be a successful franchisee you need to be at right location, have good staff that can ensure excellent customer experience.
What kind of training and business support do you offer?
The major factor that influences a consumer to return to a retail store is the service provided by the sales staff. We all know that there is dearth of trained professionals in India and the only way you can have an excellent customer experience is through a trained team, which should understand the psyche of the Indian consumer.
What is the best thing about your franchise brand and the franchisor?
I feel we are a very good franchisee for all the brands, with whom we are associated and also for those brands who are leaders in its own category in India.