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    ‘We plan to open 100 stores in 2-3 years’


    The dry-cleaning business is coming of age with modern modern players such as Pressto – which boasts a two-hour service – foraying into the market. In an exclusive interaction with IndiaRetailing, Esther Lennaerts, executive chairperson, Pressto, talks about the company’s expectations and growth plans.

    How big is the organised/modern laundry and dry-cleaning market in India?

    It is currently valued at over Rs.5,000 crore and growing at over 20 per cent per year.

    Who is your target audience?

    Our target audience is anybody who believes in being well attired and has a good sense of personal grooming.

    Designer wear, international brands, garments for occasions such as wedding are a high ticket expenditure done and we at Pressto ensure they receive the best treatment and maintenance.

    What is the average size of a Pressto store?

    Pressto stores are very different from the regular dry-cleaning stores. Since we have all the equipment, including machinery, in the store itself, we need decent space, around 500 sq.ft on an average.

    What is the USP of Presto?

    At Pressto, we clean in the store itself, ensuring complete hygiene, personalised attention, quality and speed. We can clean the most difficult garment in just two hours with any personal instruction regarding finish that you can think off.

    How has Pressto’s journey been so far?

    Our journey has been extremely satisfying. The two-hour dry cleaning service from Pressto became very popular and received a warm welcome.

    With the launch of Pressto, carrying the tag line ‘Live Clean”, which stands for personalised, reliable, hygienic, transparent and timely quality services, true garment care and dry-cleaning services have become the order of the day.

    Customers could interact with trained garment care specialists, demand customised finish for their garments and receive a computerised bill highlighting their specific instructions for each garment and even things like delivery date and time. A one-stop solution became available, since Pressto would gladly sew a missing button, darn a trouser or even alter suits. Above all, our staff is so well trained that they truly focus on individual needs and are customer focused in their communication and actions.

    What kind of challenges do you face in meeting the demands of your retail clients? How do you manage to overcome these challenges?

    Customers are becoming much more interested in their wardrobe and how to maintain it while buying more sophisticated garments and brands. Therefore, garment care and cleaning also becomes much more important and customers want to understand and be sure that their garments are well taken care of while being cleaned. This is exactly what Pressto is about.

    We have a clearly defined seven-step garment care and cleaning process, which is conducted in the store itself and is, therefore, visible to clients. We educate our customers on how to care for their garments in the right way and advise them on how garments should be pressed and finished, taking into account their specific demands.

    What preparations did you make before entering the market?

    We studied the local dressing and garment habit before entering the market and worked with an international team of different experts on developing specific dry-cleaning programmes for Indian precious garments. The result has been a huge success and we are proud of the number of Indian garments we have cleaned so far. Year on year, we are introducing new services and products in all our stores to make our customer’s life easier and cleaner.

    What’s your take on competition?

    We welcome competition and believe this will lead to increase the market share of the organised dry cleaning industry, which benefits all. Our team is experienced, knows the market well and has the ability to retain trust imposed by our customers and also win new customers.

    Competition always helps in keeping you on your toes and improving your service. The customer emerges as winner in such a scenario and that is what we want.

    Please throw light on your short- and long-term expansion plans. Which cities are you targeting?

    Currently, we have 12 operational stores – eight in Mumbai and four in Delhi. We plan to double the store count to 25 by the end of 2011. Our presence will be further felt through the roll out of the franchising model.

    For the time being, we will stay in NCR and Mumbai. Then we will expand to cities such as Pune and Bangalore. Then we will develop a more broad-based expansion strategy.

    How much do you plan to invest on expansion in the current fiscal?

    Our approach to dry-cleaning is very different and as a boutique dry-cleaner having all equipment and machines in the store itself, our business is capital intensive. Also, we are importing our main equipment with advanced technology from Europe. But the investment is paying off and we are able to get an attractive return on investment.

    Besides, we plan to reach the 100-store mark in the next 2-3 years with an investment of around Rs.20 crore.