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Spices India: An Experience Centre-cum-Retail Store


How and why was the idea of the retail store Spices India conceived?

Spices Board of India launched a pilot project – an experiential centre cum retail store covering a floor area of 1,200 sqft called Spices India at Lulu mall in Cochin. The main objective was to promote a unique brand image about Indian spices. The store offers customers an environment wherein they can touch, smell and feel the spices, and where they are also educated on the various culinary, neutraceutical and medicinal uses of spices.

The store concept was deemed essential to create and uplift the perception among consumers across markets that Indian spices rank high in quality, food safety and hygiene aspects. This called for creation of a unique Indian brand to be promoted in the domestic and international markets. Also, we feel that there is ample potential in the Indian spices to be promoted for their non-conventional applications and export of products derived from spices. Therefore, this initiative will also help in educating consumers on various culinary, nutraceutical and medicinal aspects of spices.

Tell us about the inspiration behind the store design.

Bangalore-based Four Dimensions Retail Design (4D) has designed Spices India and the concept fetched an investment of around Rs 1 crore. In terms of the inspiration behind the design element, we wanted the store to be an expression of the Indian culture, with themes ranging from art, history, geography, health to cuisine, while highlighting the impact of the Spice Trade in shaping our history. The various finishes, texture, shapes and hues found in the store were designed to complement the Indian architectural language.

The furniture and other fixtures have been styled in white and polished wood with a combination of rustic finish and clean lines, so as to draw attention to and highlight the products.

How did you decide on the location?

, Chairman, Spices Board of India, elaborates on the ideation behind their experiential centre cum retail store.

Being a pilot project, we decided that the first model of our signature store should be located in Cochin where the Spices Board of India is head-quartered. Being a new concept, we felt that it should be operated under careful observation and supervision, to assure smooth functioning of the retail model.

Reason for choosing Lulu mall as the location is that it is the second largest mall in the country, spread over 17 acres of land with an expansive 16.98 lakh sqft of built-up area. So, it is bound to attract a large majority of the international tourists visiting the city. In fact, the store concept is a great success, and is witnessing monthly footfalls of around 40,000.

Are there plans to replicate the model elsewhere?

This is a pilot project and based on its success, the Board has plans to open more such outlets across the country and in overseas markets. With regard to the expansion of Spices India, we intend to adopt the franchise model. Some of the major players in the franchising business have expressed interest to take up Spices India franchise in India and abroad. We hope to open a couple of such outlets by the end of the year.

What products are offered at Spices India?

Spices India offers a range of over 30 spices and culinary herbs along with whole spices. Besides, the store offers a line of lifestyle and personal care products such as beauty creams, clearness oils, bathing bars, shower gels and shampoos, all flavoured with spices. There are gel candles with the fragrance of spices, spice dyed garments, and spice flavoured chocolates, all of which are added attractions at the outlet.

What are the common concerns of players in the spices space?

Last year, the total spice exports from India crossed USD 2 billion, which was in tune with the export target of USD 3 billion set for the year 2017. But due to recent alterations and developments in the norms related to export and import of food items, and greater stress on quality, traceability, hygiene and food safety, all of which started posing constraints in the spice industry’s flourishing growth. It has increasingly become difficult for exporters to meet quality, hygiene, food safety and other parameters as set by different countries.