Milestones: Sugar Rs 5/Kg

  Sugar Rs 5/Kg

As a President of Home store, this was one of the most challenging jobs I had and most dynamic family from promoter’s side to support me, I never felt I am an employee and was always treated like part of it by everyone. The amount of trust on me was at time overwhelming , even the team literality followed every word spoken, resulting into THS becoming FIRST retail chain to National chain in just 18 months with 55 stores in 22 states ( mind it in Home category ,which people still find diicult to manage),even managed to open one store in Bangladesh. These were among the first wave of organized retailing in India , we had no trained buyers ,operation ,SCM,retail marketing head but every young person in team delivered more than 100% , today when I see them heading big retail house on senior positions, it gives me immense satisfaction.

During this period working with THS, I was very curious to note the absence of any organized player in the Food & grocery segment, I was told NANZ and few others entered but failed miserably in the Delhi market, after 6 month in India, I decided to take plunge in F&G and chairman & MD stood by me on this call though adverse advises given to us from industry friends.

We took small place in North Delhi, branded it “Sabka Bazaar (every ones store)” biggest challenge was NO supplier understood concept of organized retailer in this segment and supported us accept Coke & Godrej. We had only one supplier for shelving that time in Delhi, no one to design store layout, which ultimately was done by MD of company. Once all done the challenge emerged was what to do on Marketing’s first challenge : awareness , about store ,about concept , about value for money proposition , knowing no much margin in this business and media being very expensive and store been very local value , I spent hours morning to evening with core team watching how shoppers ,shop grocery in that area ,some time 10-12 hrs standing taking pictures, notes ,so much so that 4th day shoppers complained to local authorities thinking we had some bad intentions. While doing this I found most shoppers picking up sugar being part of tea making ritual in most household for self and guest those days it was sold at Rs 13/Kg, and here we got an idea. Just before night of launch of this store we placed a banner at every street entry and exit point in 3 km area with only simple line Sugar Rs3/kg* , address of store with date. Next team went door to door in 1 km radius and distributed leaflets in every house with same message and rest leaflets were distributed by me and HOD’s early morning in winters thru news paper insertion.

I remember by 6 am we had shoppers queuing outside store and by 10 we called cops to control the crowd, by 2:30 afternoon almost 90% shelves were gone empty as we had condition of Rs 5/kg sugar on purchase of Rs 300 minimum purchase, all three cash counter computer crashed in very first hour , THS head office was closed and everyone , from MD of our company, me to even HR, warehouse guys were called in this store taking every possible inch space in crowd on stairs etc with manual bill books to raise the bills. The arithmetic was simple those days 15% margin on Rs 300 worked out at Rs 45 we subsidized sugar by Rs 10 and still made Rs 30 on every bill made. Later we expanded the chain to 30 stores in just 9 months time (vendors of merchandise, shelving and even HR agencies failed to meet our demand for goods, shelving and staff) but still we managed the pace / ignored to create fancy layouts or stores and never gone on mega media budgets and still clocked cash profits within 12 months.

Later we did various promotions, but the magic of Rs 5/-Kg sugar always remained supreme. Today when all of us see many other retailers doing same promotion give us nostalgia of those days, the best part it opened flood gate for all new F&G retailers in NCR and also gave senior managers from our team to many of these new comers in coming years.

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