Future Group on Wednesday launched its first ever next generation Central Store in New Delhi’s Aerocity, at Worldmark 3 (Bharti Realty’s 1.5 million sq. ft. office-retail-leisure address). A 100,000 sq ft store, spread across four floors with over 500 brands, has helped Future Retail’s Group CEO Kishore Biyani move closer to his dream of being a leader in the department store formats in India.
“Central has always been about experiences and with this (new store) we have created an environment that will ‘seduce’ consumers to shop more, on the basis of a great shopping experience,” Biyani said at the sidelines of the store’s launch.
“I think with the launch of this store, Future Lifestyle Limited (FLL) as a company has arrived at a different level. We always had a dream to be the number one player in the department store category. We were at number three, but today, we have emerged as leaders in this space and are now setting a benchmark for stores like Shoppers Stop and Lifestyle to follow us,” he added.
Biyani’s statement is well-supported by robust numbers as well. Future Lifestyle Fashions (FLF) – which includes retail formats like Central, Brand Factory and more than a dozen brands – has reportedly surpassed the country’s largest department chain, Shoppers Stop, in retail sales.
During the June quarter, FLF had sales of Rs 803 crore while K Raheja’s Shoppers Stop, home formats Home Stop and specialty beauty formats such as Estee Lauder and Mac posted sales at Rs 772 crore, in the same quarter.
FLF has been making substantial investments since the last fiscal year in reinventing the Central stores. Germany-based architecture firm Blocher Blocher Partners has been redesigning the new look Central stores for the next decade.
This is company’s 34th store and it plans to add six more high definition stores to the Central brand.
“We are planning to have six more stores by the end of this year,” said Biyani. “And we will continue to focus on tier-I & II (cities). Wherever there will be a suitable customer, we will be there.”
The company is operating 33 Central stores in large cities (including Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune) and some in smaller cities such as Indore, Patna, Baroda and Surat.
Experience-Savvy Stores Over Tech-Savvy Ones
The Aerocity store, which is designed on the principals of seducing customers into shopping more, offers everything possible to the urban shopper. The whole concept of the store is to ensure an unobstructed, pure shopping experience to customers.
Explaining about what makes Central a high definition format, CEO Central, Vishnu Prasad, told Indiaretailing Bureau, “High definition means letting the brand express in its totality i.e. what does it stand for, followed by communicating it to the consumers; right from the product to people, to experience and delivery. All this is supported by the very core design of the store and the services which customers can not get in the other department store.”
“We have intended to make the next-gen Centrals as ‘experience-savvy’ stores rather than a ‘tech-savvy’ stores and all services and features are in that direction,” he added.
Highlighting the services that set Central apart from others, Prasad said:
“We have features like WhatsApp shopping – i.e if a shopper likes something in our store but is not sure about the purchase, we can reserve the product for them and they can Whatsapp us once they have made up their mind to buy and we deliver the item to their doorstep. Then there is VAT free shopping for our foreign travelers, golf kart services for a pickup and drop within Aerocity premises, and many such services that will make shopping an enjoyable experience,” he concludes.