For Shetty, the idea of starting an exclusive lighting company came about while he set out to help a friend, do up their new place. He noticed that while hunting for lighting and fixtures, what was available in the local market was pretty basic in designs and mostly came from China. High-end or unique lighting equipment were unaffordable even though a common man would aspire to buy them but cannot afford as most were priced between Rs.12000 to 40,000.
Initially, Shetty had planned to import lesser known design equipment but noticed that India also had a budding hub of designers that designed amazing products. He says,”So initially we started with a handful of designers like Jenny Pinto from India. Today, we promote only Indian home grown designers.”
The first exclusive Purple Lighting store was kicked off in order to attract architects and interior designers. The space served as a display or gallery space as architects would often want to touch and feel the products. Explains Shetty,”Architects always feel that they need to feel the products. Sometimes they come back saying that they did not expect the colour to be different or the product to be so large and so on.”
According to Shetty, the first month had brought in a pretty good response as the store which was 1200 square feet in area is located on a main road of Indiranagar, a prime shopping location in Bengaluru. The word spread, as people began walking in, this made Shetty consider retailing through the same outlet.
Investing during different phases, Shetty estimates that an average 1500 area square feet outlet would require close to Rs. 40 – 50 lakh of investment. Seeing a growth of 40 -50 per cent year on year, Purple Turtles is purely focused on a huge number of commercial and hospitality projects like TCS, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Cafe Coffee Day, Smoke House Deli as well all the Social that have recently opened.
The Purple Turtle store stocks up on products made from natural materials, such as fibre fabrics, wood, metal, including customisation with glass, crystal, offering a wide range of materials to work with.
For an exclusive store like Purple Turtles, there is a constant need to update products as clients would walk in every week expecting to see something new. For Shetty, this means, that the store has to be constant in churning out the old range and at the same time making space for new products. Keeping products for a minimum time period of 14 – 15 days, is what the reason why clients keep coming back to the store.
Located at one of Bengaluru city’s premium shopping areas, Shetty had occupied the rented retail outlet 5 years ago. He says,” Rent is high and Indiranagar is one of the most premium places to shop, but since we had signed on this space 5 years ago which was during recession, after which there was a price correction. But even then, the rent isn’t that bad, but now when we look at expansion, rentals are one of the biggest hurdles.”
Purple Turtles follows a franchise model with a SIS format. Currently, the brand has franchised with Vedabh in Sadhashivnagar, Bengaluru and Glow Light in Hyderabad. Looking at experienced franchisees who have the expertise in understanding the market for lighting and furniture, Purple Turtles supports its franchisees in many ways.
Explains Shetty,”We do get involved in selecting the location. When Veda had come, they had a lot of property, but we finally decided on one location which was ideal. The frontage was great on the main road and it was opposite CCD at the traffic junction. So location is a primary thing.”
According to Shetty, a franchisee who has a space of around 800 square feet would require an investment of Rs. 20 – 30 lakhs and would see an ROI within 18 months, depending on how aggressive they are. He states,”We work on a model where the franchisee has to buy the stock since we manufacture most of products. There is a lot of time and money that goes into it. We rather pass on the price benefit to the franchisee. Some of them know the tricks of the trade already. For instance, Vedabh, already have their set of architects and designers that they are working with, they broke even in 4 1/2 months. So it depends on how strong the network is and how you know the business.”
Offering support for the first 6 months, Purple Turtles offers project support as well as staff straining. Typically the franchisees would work on a yearly sale and also try to plug their projects for interiors where the products can be used. So the stock investments would work out to Rs. 10 -15 lakh on a quarterly basis and depending on the sales the brand will push franchisees for a larger volume.
Shetty is on the look out for franchisees in Mumbai, Delhi and Pune. He has already finalised on outlets in Delhi and Calicut. He sites South India as a potential market, especially Bengaluru and Chennai. He explains that Bengaluru works as a shopping hub, where people from Hyderabad, Chennai and Kerala often visit.
The fastest moving category is the banana fibre range of products, followed by glass, fabrics and brass. The Purple Turtles business is clearly divided in to two: retail which contributes 60 -70 per cent of business and the second is Projects that provides 40 per cent depending month on month. Projects also evolve from the retail space as the brand targets interior designers and architects who bring along with them repeat clients. There are also people who are building homes and offices and people who are constantly renovating or doing up their homes. Shetty often gets constant industry updates in design, architecture as well as interior design. He hopes to grow to 30 – 40 per cent and open with two more franchisees by the end of this year. By 2015 – 16, Shetty has planned to roll out more stores. For franchisees, who already have a good clientele, the first 3 – 4 months are always good. Shetty also finds that smaller towns are always well informed. He also carries out a lot of promotions during lean periods.