Romie Dutt, Executive Director, Sahara Q, shares the company’s vision of building a unique and innovative retail network that serves only quality consumer merchandise. Sahara Q currently has close to 1,500 exclusive brand outlets offering unadulterated, hygienic, and quality stamped food items and staples.
What was the ideation and concept behind the Sahara Q FMCG-retail network?
The vision of our Chief Guardian Shri Subrata Roy Sahara Ji of a healthy and resilient India laid the foundation of a movement which India has never seen before. With a vision to bridge the gap between what we deserve and what we actually receive, Sahara Q was born to serve the nation with quality consumer merchandise and a belief that the consumer deserves nothing but quality.
Sahara Q was launched on August 15, 2012, and it started showing growth and expansion with close to 200 stores opening in less than 6 months. This surge in demand was a result of growing acceptance for Sahara Q products among consumers across the country, which compelled a faster expansion. But the fast movement did not dilute the ethos and the challenge to ensure that Sahara Q products reach as many Indian households as possible. This was achieved by opening 315 stores across the country on 1st April, 2013. We achieved this target with such élan that it even fetched us Guinness World Record that is standing till date! Today, we have close to 1,500 exclusive brand outlets offering unadulterated, hygienic, and quality stamped food items and staples.
What are the key strengths of the model?
Never in the history of our FMCG industry has any company introduced a broad spectrum range of over 895 unadulterated, high-quality products that cater to the monthly needs of every Indian household. Our uniqueness is that we not only manufacture our products, but we also distribute and market them through our exclusive brand outlets, and through the conventional and successful kirana model.
A SWOT analysis (Might of Sahara India Brand Presence) revealed that strong financial capabilities and high-quality unadulterated consumer merchandise are the key strengths of this model.
Please tell us about your manufacturing/sourcing capabilities.
Our product portfolio includes staple, processed food, water and beverages, homecare, personal care, home appliances, kitchenware and general merchandise.
Sahara Q products are contract-manufactured through selected facilities which pass the 100 point checklist encompassing the set standards in terms of FSSAI, HACCP and ISO certifications, and follow good manufacturing and hygiene practices.
What are the measures taken for maintaining quality standards?
All manufacturing facilities go through rigorous pre-approval audit processes and products manufactured there are tested against more than 100 check points before they are offered to the customers. There is a continual process to test product shelf life and product behaviour in market conditions.
In fact, the company has taken an integrated approach towards quality by setting up a Sahara Quality Management System (SQMS) comprising Quality Control and Quality Assurance departments. A team of quality experts follow a layered approach to check different products for adulteration. There are 7 Quality Labs in Lucknow, Delhi (NCR), Mumbai, Patna, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Nagpur to carry out standard tests on products.
We have also constituted a Quality Vigilance Team comprising of ex-army personnel stationed at each of our manufacturing facilities to ensure stringent quality checks and ensure absence of foreign ingredients in the composition of products.
Please tell us about Sahara’s EBO, COCO and CORO models.
The company has three types of exclusive brand outlets: company owned and company operated (COCO), franchise owned and franchise operated (FOFO), and company owned and retailer operated (CORO). The company currently has 1,130 exclusive brand outlets in 14 states and 439 cities, and plans to increase the number of stores to 30,000 by the end of 2016.
EBOs range from 300 sqft to 500 sqft, and each caters to 2,000 households in a neighbourhood, providing a primary shopping option for daily needs in the catchment. 70 percent of EBOs are owned and operated by franchisees while the rest are either COCO or CORO. Under the franchisee model, we provide all necessary training and support to our franchisees to enable them to run the store successfully. The average monthly sale expected is Rs 5,00,000 to Rs 8,50,000 from a 300 sqft to 500 sqft store, respectively.
How viable is your mobile retailing via mobile shops?
Quality Mobile Shop (QMS) is the first of its kind retail and distribution model in FMCG sector in the world. Through these Mobile Shops, the company intends to expand its footprint expeditiously in tier II and III cities. These shops will primarily operate in areas where Sahara Q Shop exclusive retail stores are not present or their viability is low, and in remote areas that have a weak supply chain and non-availability of quality products. Each van will travel on a well defined route map to provide the whole range of products to customers. Currently, 181 QMS vans are operating in Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Bihar.
What are your future plans?
We are aggressively expanding our network of stores and distributors. As per the plan, we will have 1,500 exclusive brand outlets, 2,500 distributors and 500 QMS by March 2014. To support this expansion, we have chalked out a marketing strategy encompassing advertising, seminars and workshops. We want to be on the top of consumers’ recall when they go shopping for their household needs.