Saakshi is an exclusive chain of silver and fashion jewellery stores known for its superior quality and affordable jewellery. The brand deals in kundan, polki, cubic zircon, semi-precious and precious stone, pearls, and silver jewellery. From its first store in Metro Shopping Centre, Kolkata, Saakshi has grown to become a specialist jewellery brand, spreading its wings across the East.
The brand has six company stores in Kolkata, one in Durgapur and franchises in Asansol, Bhubaneswar, Ranchi, Nagpur, Jaipur, Burdwan, Muzaffarpur and Bilaspur.
The brand is known as the first and only jeweller in the country to offer a ‘no questions asked 50 percent exchange guarantee on every product purchased from its counters. Over the years Saakshi, has fruitfully invested in retail technology, innovation and technology, catapulting itself to a dominant position in the jewellery retail segment. The brand has plans to open another five stores in different cities in Eastern India within this year. Nikhil Kothari, Proprietor,
Saakshi talks about the successful franchise journey of the brand. Tell us about your franchising journey in 2018. How many new outlets have you added? Have you repositioned any of the previous ones? In 2018, we are starting a store in Bhubaneswar that is scheduled to open in the latter half of November. One of our flagship stores at South City Mall that was closed for renovation has also been reopened this year. Based on your experience and expertise - what do you have to say about the understanding of franchising in India, specially so if you have to compare it with the system seen in European or Western countries. I think the main issue with the franchising in India is numberbased. It is actually difficult to set up a relationship with the people who approach for franchising opportunities.
For instance, people are very excited in initial stages but lose focus with time. Sometimes they are not motivated enough to run a business, at other times, this is only a part time opportunity for them. We require more focus from local players. In big cities it is easy to guide and help franchising stores with major problems, but regional players usually need to put in a lot more effort for a successful franchise.
Secondly, with fewer number of malls coming up in India and exhausted high streets, opportunity in retail is taking a hit. What according to you are nuances that are typical to franchising operations in India? As I mentioned earlier, motivation is the major one. People lose interest after a period of time so to keep the interest level maintained is a major challenge. Sometimes franchise owners lose focus, don’t look after the staff, which is not good for us since we work very hard to establish our format in a new place. Tell us about the franchising business of your brand, highlighting the key milestones that are dear to the company’s journey. One of the most interesting episodes in our franchising journey was when we were approached by a person from Jaipur. Jaipur being the place for gems and jewellery in India, we were very surprised, but we went ahead and opened a store there and it turned out to be one of the most successful ones in our kitty.
Similiarly, the Chhattisgarh belt has been very positive for us in terms of growth. We have a store at Nagpur and Bilaspur and are opening stores in Raipur and Durg. Odisha is another emerging market. We have opened a new store in Bhubaneshwar and are opening one in Cuttack as well. There is lots of opportunity and scope in these two states for us. What makes your brand a favorite with franchisers - things that you do for relationship and business building for them. We don’t look the franchisees from a franchising medium, we look at them as our own business partners. We always say that the first priority is to earn and only then a company can sustain. We have got very good module, where the investment is very less, the support end is technically sound and quick as everything is based on consignment basis so there is no desktop pending work. Replacement of old stocks is done timely and we have a USP of giving 50 percent exchange of the stocks to the customers. Being in a fashion jewelry segment and giving a 50 percent exchange value to customers and that too without any time frame is what attracts more customers. And this makes both the franchisee and franchiser happy. The kind of stock and variety which we have also makes us popular.