Chennai-based leisure retailer, Odyssey India Ltd, a 100 per cent subsidiary of Deccan Chronicle Holding Ltd, has shown its growth trajectory across verticals and formats. Today, it launched its 11th store in Chennai and taken its total store count to half-a-century. The 1,050 square feet outlet will stock over 5,000 books under various categories.
Talking exclusively to IndiaRetailing on the strategy behind its aggressive expansion in south zone in the last two months, T S Ashwin says, “Last year we had taken the decision to just focus on our expansion in the five states where we have our current retail operations, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Delhi/NCR, to drive the maximum leverage of the existing back-end support infrastructure. The strategy always was to set up large and express format stores in the metros and look at smaller format stores in the tier II cities in the same states. We now have large format stores in all these metros and are still looking at more options in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore.”
“As for express formats, due to aggressive expansion in the past years, we had neglected some of these formats like IT park stores, we had initiated earlier. So now we are tying up with many IT parks and IT companies for setting up these stores. It so happens that most of these are in the South. The upcoming stores are in Chennai, Coimbatore, Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, Aurangabad and Hyderabad. So the expansion is quite spread out,” adds Ashwin.
In response to the question which leisure retailer is the main competitor in the business, Ashwin underscores, “I don’t want to comment on this but it will suffice to say that a lot of large retailers who got into this segment earlier as part of their diversification have pulled out of late, again as part of their own consolidation and refocus on their core product segments. So this has resulted in lesser number of active players in this segment and I feel that current players and their operations are enough to justify the current market size for our particular segment.”
Currently, Odyssey has standalone stores, mall stores and few kiosks in Delhi Metro stations. “In metros such as Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore we prefer standalone formats as there are a lot of neighbourhoods that provide good standalone options. In Mumbai and Delhi, we prefer mall stores as a lot of good mall options are coming up and the available standalone options are mostly not viable either financially or operationally,” says Ashwin.
He further adds, “In tier II cities, if good options are available, we prefer to go in for mall stores, as malls are definitely a sure draw in these cities. The express stores are non-mall stores as they are attached to some specific catchments such as IT parks, metro stations, airports, etc. This strategy has automatically ensured a decent spread between mall and standalone stores.”
Odyssey has increasingly focused on small store formats and kiosks. The retailer is on the quick expansion track and willing to open new stores in large format. “We have always innovated and developed a lot of express formats right from our inception, driven by our strategy of being as close to our potential consumer as possible, considering our whole category is based on impulse purchase. As said earlier, we had neglected some of these formats due to the overall expansion though they had good potential,” says Ashwin.
He further reveals, “Now we have brought back our focus in these formats and are working on ramping up store count across various verticals. Most of these are national tie-ups and hence you see the roll out happening faster. Having said that, we definitely have large stores coming up shortly too – this year, there is a 25,000 sq.ft store lined up in Express Avenue (Chennai), a 9000 sq.ft store in Prozone (Aurangabad), a 12,000 sq.ft store in Brookefields Plaza (Coimbatore) apart from some others we are working on.”
— Diwakar Kumar