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Chunmun: One-stop Destination for Family Shopping

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A humble shop to the current chain of multi-brand stores, the journey for has been rather incredible.

Housing the best of brands and products, Delhi-based retailer Chunmun (CnM) has carved a niche for itself as a family store among the denizens of Delhi and NCR region. Founded by Late Smt. Satish Suri, CnM embarked its journey in the early 1980s as a small garment shop in Lajpat Nagar, Delhi. After operating the store single-handedly for a few years, Suri was joined by her son Sharad Suri. From there on, they worked together to scale up the business, which has made giant strides since then. Today, CnM has grown into a chain of large-scale MBOs with footprints in cities like Delhi, Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Meerut and Jalandhar.

Now, under the leadership of Sharad Suri – as the director of Chunmun Stores – his sons Sagar Suri and Surya Suri in key management roles; the business is aiming greater  heights. Talking about the concept, Sagar Suri, chief executive officer, Chunmun Stores states, “Despite its modest beginning, qualities like enthusiasm, creativity and boundless talent have constantly kept CnM at the forefront of success. Our years of rich experience and understanding of customer pulse have helped CnM to evolve into a chain of multi-brand stores, which brings together various product categories from fashion and beauty to toys and home ware under one roof. As such, each of our stores presents a convenient shopping destination for everyone. Surya Suri, chief technology offi cer, Chunmun Stores adds, “Moreover, our strategy to stock a mix of ‘bridge to luxury’ brands helps us to serve customers at wide-ranging price-points without compromising on quality and variety.”

TRADE DYNAMICS

For FY 2013–14, CnM’s annual turnover (from 8 stores) was Rs 250 crore. It achieved an average monthly per sq.ft. Sales of Rs 1,050 and same-store sales growth of 11 percent during the period, informed Surya. With its recently opened outlet in Rajouri Garden (West Delhi) spread across 36,000 sq.ft., which is also its ninth retail store, the chain now has a total of 2,36,000 sq.ft. retail space to its credit. All CnM stores are situated in prime localities such as Lajpat Nagar, GK-I, Pitampura, Rajouri Garden, Kaushambi in Delhi; City Mall in Faridabad; Opulent Mall in Ghaziabad; Era Mall in Meerut; and Model Town in Jalandhar.

Its smallest store measures 7,000 sq.ft. and is located in GKI, Delhi whereas the Ghaziabad store spanning 50,000 sq.ft. is its largest outlet so far. Apparel – the largest category at CnM – occupies 75 percent of the store space accounting for almost 80 percent of the company’s sales. The remaining space is shared by other categories. Affi rming that strategic brand mix is vital to CnM’s overall profi tability, Sagar discloses the percentage wise brand mix as: private labels (excluding imported merchandise) – 10 percent; national brands – 40 percent; foreign brands – 20 percent; regional brands and local brands – 10 percent; fashion merchandise – 10 percent; and other labels – 10 percent.

BRANDS AND PRODUCTS

Offering a wide repertoire of products in various categories, CnM has positioned itself as an exclusive store catering to all age groups. “Though apparel category remains our mainstay, our stores also deal in footwear, jewellery and watches, cosmetics, toys and gifts, home furnishings and décor, kitchenware and appliances. True to CnM’s tagline ‘Clothes ‘n’ more’, our product portfolio is segmented into four collections: men’s, women’s, kids’ and lifestyle,” apprises Sagar.

MEN’S: For the style conscious men, it has a large pool of known Indian and international brands in formal and casualwear, namely Tommy Hilfi ger, U.S. Polo, UCB, Ed Hardy, Louis Philippe, , , Raymonds, Arrow, Wills, Color Plus, Parx, , Proline, Indian Terrain, etc. In denim, the stores stock labels such as , , Pepe, Numero Uno, Lee and others.

WOMEN’S: In line with the fast changing women’s fashion trends, the retailer stocks latest range of ethnic dresses like women’s suits along with designerwear for the well heeled clientele from brands like W, Aurelia, etc. Moreover, menswear dealing in women’s clothing are also available. Additionally, brands like 109°F also find space here. Besides clothing, CnM also retails branded cosmetics like Maybelline, L’Oréal, Revlon, Lakmé and Chambor and also has a wide range of semi-precious jewellery; including semi-precious stone jewellery, kundan, polka and pearl sets; ethnically designed silver ornaments, etc.

KIDS: Catering to the needs of infants and children up to 14 years, Chunmun stores display exciting range of kidswear and toys. While casual and partywear from brands like Child World, , Vitamins, and Little are in offi ng in apparel range, names such as Funskool, Fisher Price, and Barbie are available in the toys segment.

LIFESTYLE: Alongside fashion and personal grooming, CnM sells home utilities and decorative items as well. Sagar informs, “In kitchenware, we sell imported dinner sets from brands like Corelle and Luminarc, La Opala and branded cutlery and plasticware like trays, jars, etc. In décor, Our linen section offers home furnishings such as bathroom sets, bed sheets, table linens, runners, etc. Moreover, we stock imported crystal ware from reputed international brands like Daxitai, Henniger, etc.”

OPERATIONAL GAMUT

A significant portion of merchandise sold at CnM is procured from domestic market like Delhi whereas the rest of the supplies come from Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra, Kolkata, etc. The retailer has direct sourcing agreements with manufacturers who fulfi ll 90 percent of its product requirement while the remaining is met through merchandise agents. It strives to maintain a strong supplier relationship so as to have uninterrupted supply of latest products as well as stock replenishment. CnM has an in-house merchandising team as well a dedicated sourcing team for each product category that works under respective category heads entrusted with overall responsibility of stock maintenance. At each location, the showroom manager takes reports on daily basis vis-à-vis inventory status, stock movement between back-end and front-end, sales, footfalls, etc. for efficient store operations.

The company has put up an internal stock refi ll mechanism whereby stock is transferred from one store to another in case of shortage. Underscoring the staff’s contribution in the growth of business, Surya asserts, “Employees are the backbone of our company. We provide them ample training, skill enhancement opportunities and great work culture. We also encourage fresh talent and try to retain efficient workers. Consequently, most of our staff members have been with us for over five years.” At CnM, sales managers provide regular training on products, soft skills, client handling and sales techniques to the front-end staff while merchandise managers coach their teams regarding visual merchandising and presentation.

LEVERAGING TECHNOLOGY

Conceding that technology is crucial in today’s businesses, CnM has integrated the same into its daily store operations. It has adopted Ginesys, specialised software for retail business, for inventory management and control with Point-of-Sales (POS) system to take care of billing, accounting, customer loyalty programme, product planning and distribution. Additionally, it has installed Tally ERP fi nance and accounting software. Surya says, “The company has a centralised system for managing technology-backed processes at its Delhi headquarters. Once the information is fed at any store location, it is quickly updated at the headquarter level facilitating prompt handling of requirements as well as issues.

The company also makes use of barcode technology to have strict control over inventory and also to obtain accuracy, speed and efficiency in the billing process.”

In addition to brick-and-mortar stores, CnM is also relying on internet sales channels to tap into the growing community of e-shoppers in India. For this, it has collaborated with e-commerce portals like eBay, , Jabong and Myntra.

WINNING CUSTOMERS

As garments are its principle category, CnM focuses on stocking exclusive lines of formal and casualwear in a wide range of sizes, shapes and styles so as to meet every shopper’s requirement. The entire store planogramy and displays have been designed keeping in mind customers’ convenience, swift movement within stores and easy access to merchandise. The retailer also provides services like clothing alterations, free home delivery, etc. As per customer choice, the sales staff also assists them by delivering their
shopping bags till the parking area.

Whilst, the dedicated customer service team keep tabs on consumer preferences, buying behaviour and opinions, thus helping the retailer to improve its offerings and services.

Customers can also register feedback over the telephone. “Our reporting system conveys all consumer feedback and complaints directly to the key management,” claims Sagar.

He further says, “We tend to handle our customers with personal touch so that repeated visits are guaranteed. Also each individual complaint is handled at the topmost level.

We believe that such endevours help us win customers’ confidence and forge long-term bonds with them. It also helps in increasing our sales.” Furthermore, CnM’s policy to use recycled paper shopping bags resonates well with environment-conscious customers.

MARKETING AND PROMOTIONS

As regards promotional initiatives, CnM primarily counts on above-the-line marketing tools like print advertisements in leading newspapers, cable TV and at times radio advertisements too. Its below-the-line marketing channels consist of hoardings, pamphlets, etc. Besides this, the company holds in-store promotions, for instance, on-the-spot offer whereby customers can avail discounts on specifi c products if they
purchase the same within half an hour or additional benefi ts by way of ‘buy one, get one free’ scheme. It also provides customers an opportunity to buy quality merchandise at reduced prices during end-of-season sale.

The retailer also runs customer loyalty programme – Joy Card – that entitles card holders to earn reward points every time they shop and get discounts on subsequent purchases. In addition, it engages customers through CnM’s official Facebook page and it is working towards extending free membership to visitors on becoming friends on its FB page. According to Sagar, marketing helps the company to not only retain its present clientele but also reach out to prospective new customers. Pointing out that these activities are also important to counter competition from other players, he says that there is a separate marketing team at CnM that takes care of all the efforts focused at maximising customer outreach.

EXPANSION

According to Surya, all existing MBOs like Lifestyle, , Pantaloon, etc. Along with future players in multi-brand format are CnM’s competitors. At the same time, he feels that retail being a highly dynamic business requires constant learning. As per Sagar, each day and every experience garnered in the course of business helps them in climbing a higher growth curve. Sharing CnM’s expansion plans, he says, “We would like to expand our presence as and when there is an opportunity with an aim to become a national player in the coming years. We are targeting to open two more CnM stores in the next one year. The locations for prospective openings would be Noida and Ludhiana.”