Subir Ghosh, CEO of Planet M Retail Ltd, lays emphasis on innovation and sees it as a business driver in a tough economic climate. Adopting fresh ideas and dimensions are of paramount importance in dealing with a changing business environment, he agrees. In an exclusive interview to IndiaRetailing, he also reflects on how leisure retailer Planet M is being tech-prudent in leveraging VPN and is on the way to deploying WiFi at outlets spread across the country.
Q1) Recent reports suggest that your dialogues with Private Equity (PE) players failed on the ground of valuation of business. For now, have you shed expansion plans or are you looking for an alternative options for raising funds?
Answer: We continue to drive profitable expansion, which the group has more than adequate wherewithal to support.
Q2) Do you feel the heat of competition from retail chains such as Landmark, Odyssey etc, consolidating their retail footprints pan-India?
Answer: Planet M is in the business of “feel good and indulgence” and is thus not tied to any category. Consequently, it does not benchmark itself directly against any competitor due to its unique customer proposition.
Q3) No modern retailer can excel without leveraging technology. Which technologies are in evidence at Planet M outlets?
Answer: We are continuously upgrading both connectivity enhancement and customer management technology. We have just deployed VPN and are in the process of overlaying it with WiFi.
Q4) Business leaders talk about importance of innovation for growth. Please share your experiences on this subject.
Answer: Innovation is nothing but bringing a fresh dimension to doing things. Your current set of practices would ideally have brought you to your current level of output, so how do you expect it to take the business to the next level if you don’t change the way you are doing things? Additionally, the environment is continuously changing and you have to calibrate your responses dynamically to to cope with these changes. This is nothing but a basic form of innovation.
Q5) Do you think that exclusive brand stores are doing better than multi-brand outlets?
Answer: Each format has its own place and facilitates customer in different ways and hence it is not this versus that. Both have an equal possibility of prospering, provided they get their customer proposition right.
Q6) Do you think that FDI in multi-brand retail should be liberalised? What impact it would make on domestic retailers?
Answer: My earnest opinion is that business needs to be more employee- and customer-focusing rather than bother about the success of capital, as money invariably tends to be allocated to where it is best used and leveraged — a business managed outstandingly well, which is the outcome of superb employee and customer engagement.
Q7) Planet M was started by Times Group and Next, (retail arm of Videocon) later acquired it. What was so lucrative about this business?
Answer: Planet M is perhaps the only retail brand that caters to the youth and young at heart segment. This is the most lucrative segment not just in the current context but also for many years to come.
Q8) It is a fact that retail is booming in India, yet more than 90 percent of the market is dominated by traditional retailers. Do you see the possibility of attracting more customers from all walks of life to modern retail stores? Because, typically, consumers from lower income groups perceive modern retailers as being more expensive?
Answer: As India’s GDG and standard of living enhance, Indians are going to be seeing better quality of pre- and post-consumption experiences wherever they shop. Thus any form of retail that caters to this expectation will flourish.