Cashing in on ‘baby’ boom

    Cashing in on ‘baby’ boom

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    A one-stop destination for branded maternity and baby care products, Mom & Me, a specialty retail concept by , is available through 115 stores pan India and also online. In a candid interview, , EVP & Head – Franchise Operations & Business Development, Mahindra Retail talks to Namita Bhagat about the brand’s quick rise to fame and its shifting focus to the franchise model.

    A one-stop destination for branded maternity and baby care products, Mom & Me, a specialty retail concept by Mahindra Group, is available through 115 stores pan India and also online. In a candid interview, Snehal Vashi, EVP & Head – Franchise Operations & Business Development, Mahindra Retail talks to Namita Bhagat about the brand’s quick rise to fame and its shifting focus to the franchise model.

    Brief us on the concept of ‘Mom & Me’. How has the journey been so far?

    Incepted in 2009, Mom & Me is a specialty retail chain owned by Mahindra Retail, a part of the US$ 16.5 billion Mahindra Group. Mom & Me was conceptualised to address the lacunae for quality maternity and baby merchandise and services in India, with the value proposition emerging from in-depth nationwide customer research done across the key markets. Through our concept, we aimed at fulfilling the critical need gap of the absence of a retail store that offers not only innovative quality products for both the mother and the child but also provides non-medical advisory. Today, Mom & Me has become a unique destination for mothers and kids with a strong pan India presence through 115 brick and mortar stores across 46 cities. Our stores deal in a variety of products under categories like maternity and ethnic fashion, infants and kids’ apparel, mother and baby wellness, infant furniture, toys and games from reputed national and international brands. Additionally, we have significant online presence as well.

    How unique is the concept from other retailing brands operating in the same space?

    The USP of our brand is that everything that a mother and her child needs during pregnancy stage  up to +9 years is all available under a single roof and delivered through consultative selling. Most of our stores offer facilities such as separate play area for kids, private feeding room, nappy change facilities, extra-wide aisles, spacious seating area and reading area stocked with books related to pregnancy and parenting. Also, we select our customer relationship executives carefully and provide them with adequate training on products as well as understanding of customers’ requirements. All our stores have ‘supermoms’ or ‘superdads’, a concept pioneered by Mom & Me, who are knowledgeable and empathetic from personal experience. They are equipped with additional training conducted by experts in the field to guide and assist moms-to-be and mothers in selecting the right products based on their lifestyle and life stage.

    To ensure that every Mom & Me customer has a memorable shopping experience, we host various in-house activities for parents and kids. These include parenting forums or expert-led interactive sessions on pregnancy and parenting, and weekend activities for children such as arts and crafts, storytelling, car racing and much more.

    You are now taking the franchise route. Tell us more about it.

    Well, there is ‘strength in numbers’ and we feel that taking the franchise route can help us reach and cater to a much larger audience in a shorter timeframe. So we intend to grow via franchises and in the process become the country’s largest retail chain in the segment. Mom & Me’s franchise concept is franchise owned, franchise operated model (FOFO) with company owned stock (agency model). We offer single- as well as multi-unit franchisees and do not charge any franchise fee. At present, we are operating 12 franchise stores with more in the pipeline.

    ?What factors make Mom & Me an attractive franchise opportunity?  

    There are a number of factors that make Mom & Me a sound franchise business investment. Firstly, one gets the opportunity to associate with India’s top brand – Mahindra is one of the leading business conglomerates in the country while Mom & Me too is a well-established brand in the ‘mother and child’ retail segment offering a great range of products.

    Although a niche segment, there is immense potential in India for branded stuff for mother and child. Notably, as of now, there is little competition in the
    organised segment. As a result, our franchisees can benefit from its vast existing potential with huge future growth prospects. Moreover, with over 100 retail stores and strong technical and operational knowledge in the retail field, we are well positioned to help our franchise partners to set up profitable business in a short span of time. So, our franchisees can expect easy returns on investment with average return on investment (ROI) of 30 per cent to 45 per cent.

    How much capital and area is needed to open a ‘Mom & Me’ store?

    To partner with us as franchisee, a total investment of Rs. 30 to 35 lakh along with an area of 1,000 to 1,100 sq.ft. (carpet area) is required. A high street, preferably on the ground or first floor, will be an ideal location for opening a Mom & Me outlet. Also, there are other aspects to be considered, such as good visibility and connectivity via elevator. Another good location for this concept would be a mall with great footfalls.

     How do you train and support your franchise partners?

    We provide in-depth training, support and material, which include quality checks, accounting, reporting, point of sale, customer service standards and anything else required to successfully run the business.

    Tell us about your online store.

    With plans to grow Mom & Me via offline stores, we are also leveraging the online channel to increase our market penetration and sales. We have launched our e-store, www.momandmeshop.in, in 2012. So, at the click of a few buttons a mother can now shop from the comfort of her home.

    Please share the brand’s expansion plans.

    We would like to further our presence throughout India, which will entail deepening our presence in existing markets besides capturing new markets. All tier-I, -II and -III cities are on our expansion radar. We are on the lookout for passionate and dynamic individuals with good business acumen to partner with us and extend our value offerings to new regions across India through franchise business model.

    What can you predict about the category’s future in India?

    In India, the mother and child market segment is still in its infancy but is heading for stupendous growth in the near future. As far as competition is concerned, it comes in various forms across the spectrum, right from organised players to scattered mom-and-pop stores. However, we look at any kind of competition as healthy competition. Apart from assortment of products as mentioned above, we differentiate ourselves by offering something that is unique in this space.