THREE TO TANGO

It is not a small feat for a re­gional dis­trib­u­tor in Bi­har to achieve a turnover of ` 80 crore, but Navin Gupta, Di­rec­tor, Kr­ishna Group, along with his two broth­ers, has cre­ated a com­pany that is re­garded as the best dis­trib­u­tor in the re­gion

CRN - - ROLE MODEL - AMIT SINGH

Patna-based Kr­ishna Group that started as sta­tionery re­tail and dis­tri­bu­tion busi­ness trans­formed into com­pletely dif­fer­ent avatar over the years.

The group is re­garded as one of the largest IT re­gional dis­trib­u­tors in Bi­har, with pres­ence in re­tail and cor­po­rate re­selling. It is among the first IT re­sellers and is cred­ited with cre­at­ing IT aware­ness at a time when the re­gion had no con­cept of IT.

The be­gin­ning

Navin Gupta, Di­rec­tor, Kr­ishna Group, joined fam­ily busi­ness af­ter com­plet­ing BA Hons in 1974, and started look­ing for op­por­tu­ni­ties to ex­pand. The op­por­tu­nity struck in 1980 when he part­nered with DCM Data Prod­ucts as re­seller. “We were dis­tribut­ing DCM cal­cu­la­tors and had a good con­nect with the govern­ment, PSU and commercial es­tab­lish­ments. Al­though IT was at a nascent stage, we re­al­ized its po­ten­tial in the be­gin­ning,” he shares.

He was ably sup­ported by older broth­ers, Satish, Sud­hir and Ra­jesh Gupta, Di­rec­tors, Kr­ishna Group. By 1982, the com­pany en­tered of­fice au­to­ma­tion and added frank­ing ma­chines from Kil­burn and Mit­subishi photo copiers to its port­fo­lio.

The com­pany saw ma­jor turn­around in 1985 when it or­ga­nized first IT expo in Patna. “The expo was in­au­gu­rated by Chan­dra Shekhar Singh, then Chief Sec­re­tary of Bi­har. He was quite im­pressed and is­sued letters to all the HODs to visit the expo. That gave huge im­pe­tus to our IT busi­ness, and we bagged sev­eral deals for 1-3 PCs and servers,” re­calls Sud­hir.

See­ing the rapid growth, the com­pany in 1985 carved out a sep­a­rate com­pany, Kr­ishna Agencies Pvt Ltd (KAPL), to han­dle the IT busi­ness.

It be­came first Xerox dealer in In­dia in 1987. “Of­fice au­to­ma­tion was just tak­ing off in Bi­har and the de­mand was ris­ing for photo copiers and fax ma­chines. Our Xerox busi­ness grew grad­u­ally. By 1993, we were sell­ing 150 pho­to­copiers and 100 fax ma­chines per an­num, which rose to 250 copiers and 600 fax ma­chines yearly by 1996,” shares Ra­jesh.

The com­pany also ven­tured in IT re­tail in 1987. “We were tar­get­ing both the commercial and home con­sumers with the re­tail store. It was the hunger to grow fur­ther that prompted us to tie-up with Com­paq in 1997. The same year, we be­came au­tho­rized ser­vice part­ner for Com­paq,” says Navin.

In the mean­time, el­dest brother Satish left the busi­ness in 1994 and started a real es­tate busi­ness in Delhi.

Kr­ishna saw re­tail pick­ing up af­ter tie-up with HP in 2000. “HP was quite ag­gres­sive on pric­ing and hence we part­nered with it for commercial as well as re­tail. It dou­bled our re­tail rev­enue to ` 2 crore in FY2000-01,” he adds. The same year, it formed Kr­ishna Con­sul­tancy Ser­vices (KCS) to cater to ser­vices and con­sum­ables busi­ness.

Later, the com­pany en­tered IT dis­tri­bu­tion in part­ner­ship with Dell, in 2008. “That was a turn­ing point for us. We lever­aged our ex­per­tise in dis­tri­bu­tion of sta­tionery prod­ucts. Ad­di­tion­ally ag­gres­sive mar­ket­ing from Dell en­abled us to sell 150-200 PCs per month in 2009,” shares Navin.

Dell dis­tri­bu­tion en­abled Kr­ishna to grow 76 per­cent from ` 25 crore in FY2008-09 to ` 44 crore in FY2009-10.

Cur­rent busi­ness

The Kr­ishna Group now con­sti­tutes three en­ti­ties, Kr­ishna Agencies deal­ing with dis­tri­bu­tion, KAPL for re­tail and KCS for cor­po­rate re­selling and ser­vices.

The Kr­ishna Group, now man­aged by three broth­ers, reg­is­tered 12 per­cent growth post­ing a topline of ` 66 crore in FY2011-12. It fur­ther grew 21 per­cent to ` 79.5 crore in FY2012-13.

The com­pany cred­ited the growth in the last cou­ple of years to in­creas­ing fo­cus on Dell dis­tri­bu­tion, large govern­ment deals and ser­vices fo­cus.

The dis­tri­bu­tion busi­ness added ` 57.9 crore last fis­cal, and largely grew due to higher fo­cus on ex­ist­ing prod­ucts and chan­nel ex­pan­sion in Bi­har. Kr­ishna Agencies is a

“Part­ners will stop see­ing value, if all you are do­ing is ful­fill­ment. We must un­der­stand that chan­nel at­ten­tion spans are short, hence we need to cre­ate a dif­fer­ence”

Dell Mas­ter Sales Af­fil­i­ate for Bi­har and re­gional dis­trib­u­tor for Xerox con­sum­ables. Nearly 80 per­cent of its topline came from Dell and con­sum­ables con­trib­uted about 20 per­cent. “In 2008, we be­gan with 20 part­ners and over the years have in­creased the count to 125 part­ners. This ex­pan­sion has fa­cil­i­tated the growth of our dis­tri­bu­tion busi­ness,” dis­closes Navin.

The cor­po­rate re­selling busi­ness con­trib­uted ` 11 crore last fis­cal; al­most 55 per­cent of it came from govern­ment and 45 per­cent from ed­u­ca­tion. “The Bi­har govern­ment in­tro­duced sev­eral large IT projects in the last cou­ple of years. Many govern­ment of­fices were also re­vamped, and new ones cameup; this cre­ated large op­por­tu­ni­ties. More­over, we ben­e­fit­ted with many new ed­u­ca­tional projects,” he adds.

The com­pany won a large deal to sup­ply 300 PCs worth ` 1.7 crore across 38 of­fices of Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion in Bi­har in 2012. It won an or­der worth ` 1 crore for 20 pho­to­copiers from a med­i­cal col­lege. It also sup­plied 400 PCs to a large govern­ment univer­sity in Bi­har.

The re­tail busi­ness con­trib­uted about ` 10 crore last fis­cal due to prod­uct ex­pan­sion and ser­vices fo­cus. The com­pany added Dell ac­ces­sories in 2012, and opened an all-brand ser­vice cen­ter for PC, print­ers and UPSs. In ad­di­tion, it bagged AMCs from cor­po­rate cus­tomers, which con­trib­uted ` 40 lakh.

Best prac­tices

Kr­ishna Agencies fo­cuses on man­ag­ing credit bet­ter for more in­ven­tory cy­cles, adding to the turnover. “We have cat­e­go­rized part­ners ac­cord­ing to their credit wor­thi­ness. While we ask many of our part­ners to pay ad­vance cheques, we have about 50 part­ners who pay in ad­vance through RTGS. This way, we have been able to en­sure zero de­faults,” in­forms Ra­jesh.

One of the key strate­gies has been to go be­yond the ven­dor in all as­pects of chan­nel man­age­ment. “I be­lieve part­ners will stop see­ing value in you, if all you are do­ing is ful­fill­ment. Also, we un­der­stood that chan­nel at­ten­tion span is short, hence we need to cre­ate a dif­fer­ence,” elab­o­rates Navin.

He ad­vises peers to be pas­sion­ate about busi­ness,

“You can­not hold on to a busi­ness be­cause it gave you good re­turns some time back but is los­ing money to­day. The same ap­plies to some ven­dor re­la­tion­ships”

but not just about one busi­ness. “You will need to change with the times. You need to have a sense of de­tach­ment too; you can­not hold on to a busi­ness be­cause it gave you good re­turns some time back—but is los­ing money to­day. The same ap­plies to some ven­dor re­la­tion­ships. I give more im­por­tance to hu­man re­la­tion­ships than ven­dor re­la­tion­ships.”

Fu­ture plans

The com­pany is tar­get­ing rev­enue of ` 100 crore in the cur­rent fis­cal. “We have al­ready achieved al­most 80 per­cent of our tar­get rid­ing on our dis­tri­bu­tion busi­ness. The Dell dis­tri­bu­tion is likely to add ` 65 crore this fis­cal.”

It is also plan­ning to add tablets to its dis­tri­bu­tion port­fo­lio in the next fis­cal.

Kr­ishna ex­pects ` 15 crore from its cor­po­rate re­selling busi­ness. It added UneeCops smart class so­lu­tion in 2012 and ex­e­cuted 5 or­ders worth ` 4 lakh-`5lakh; two are un­der ex­e­cu­tion. “More­over, we have ex­e­cuted 12 deals of ` 15lakh` 20lakh in the cur­rent fis­cal. How­ever, ma­jor­ity of busi­ness is ex­pected in Dec-Jan as the govern­ment is ex­pected to re­lease large DGS&D or­ders dur­ing that time,” shares Navin.

In ad­di­tion, the com­pany is also col­lab­o­rat­ing with sys­tem in­te­gra­tion di­vi­sion of Ri­coh. “We are par­tic­i­pat­ing in three large govern­ment and ed­u­ca­tion deals worth ` 5 crore-`10 crore with Ri­coh. The ORC in these deals will sig­nif­i­cantly boost our rev­enues,” he dis­closes.

Fur­ther, Sud­hir ex­pects ` 12 crore from re­tail and ser­vices. “We are hav­ing roar­ing sales in the fes­ti­val sea­son and re­tail has al­ready added ` 7 crore to the busi­ness. Dell ac­ces­sories are con­tribut­ing sig­nif­i­cantly to the growth.”

On a per­sonal note

The trio sees their fa­ther Late RS Gupta who started the sta­tionery busi­ness in 1964 as role model. “We have worked on his prin­ci­ple of promis­ing less and de­liv­er­ing more. He al­ways taught us to pay debts on time for a flour­ish­ing busi­ness,” shares Navin.

Navin is the founder mem­ber and Vice Pres­i­dent of Con­fed­er­a­tion of In­dian IT As­so­ci­a­tions and Sec­re­tary of the Bi­har IT As­so­ci­a­tion. He is also ac­tive in Ro­tary In­ter­na­tional.

The three broth­ers have a com­mon hobby of trav­el­ling and make sure to travel at least once a year. “The best part in trav­el­ling is the qual­ity time spent with fam­ily and friends,” con­cludes Ra­jesh.

Navin Gupta

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