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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.

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