Home Retailer Lalit Agarwal

Lalit Agarwal

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, V-Mart Chairman and Managing Director, holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce from Bombay University, and a Diploma in Financial Management from the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai.

Agarwal is a retail baron, who has rich experience in diverse fields of industry, with a legacy of building businesses, both as a professional CEO and as an entrepreneur with over twenty years of experience in setting up a printing, packaging and retail industry.

Considered amongst the first-movers of modern retail in India, his leadership of V-Mart has led the company’s transformation into a leading retail brand with special focus on India’s tier II and III cities. With a vision to establish the concept of organised value retailing in untapped regions of India, Agarwal launched first lifestyle store of Ahmedabad in the western state of Gujarat. At the time of its opening, this store was recognised as the first organised lifestyle retail store in entire Western India, targetted specifically at middle- and lower-income consumers.

“The small-town shopper is the toughest customer,’ Agarwal notes. “When it comes to fashion, they have strong aspirations of dressing as their big-city counterparts, but are limited by wallet size.”

“For a value fashion retailer like us, this means a long-term fashion consciousness in our ranges, while also ensuring higher quality — because a small-town customer is likely to wear a certain garment many times over and for longer than a richer customer in a big city. Therefore, the product has to endure for longer, while being just as fashionable.”

So how does V-Mart pull off the tightrope of being fashionable at low cost? “Smart sourcing,” says Agarwal. “We traverse the length and breadth of India to find small vendors who can replicate the look of current trends at high quality.” A specialised team at V-Mart monitors the procurement and manufacturing process stringently to ensure that the products are up to par — both in fashion-forwardness and quality, he points out.

In 2013-14, V-Mart opened 22 new stores, which contributed to a significant jump in sales numbers. “For us, 2013-14 proved to be a good fiscal year. We observed a 40 per cent top line growth and 10 per cent same store sales growth. There was a higher footfall, higher conversion rate and an increase in bill size,” Agarwal says.

In the last fiscal, 19 new stores were added, which led to a 25 per cent jump in top sales, including same store sales growth at 10 per cent.

V-Mart is aiming to expand its store network up to 200 in non-metro cities in next four years, starting with the addition of 25 new outlets in the current fiscal. ” As to locations, we typically operate via a cluster-based approach, which means no two stores are more than 150 kms apart. Going by that , we will be concentrating on the Gangetic belt, and move further eastwards towards Orissa and West Bengal this year,” Agarwal informs.

The addition retail footprint is expected to boost the chain’s topline growth by 30 per cent this year, according to Agarwal.

By Nupur Chakraborty