At a time when big box retailers are chopping off big chunks of stores or moving to more efficient spaces, Bangalore-based Good Food Store finds itself in a happy place. Modelled along compact neighbourhood stores, the chain is not encumbered by financial burden and has successfully been turning the most profitable, fastestselling inventory. “The foot traffic at our stores has been stepping up considerably and sales have been climbing every month,” says Suresh K. Asrani, owner, Suresh Kumar & Co. (Impex) Pvt. Ltd, the parent company that manages the retail operations of Good Food Store…
In a nutshell, please share the growth journey of Good Food Store over the years and how you see its course of trajectory going forward?
Good Food Store is a chain of retail food stores carrying premium quality food products. We opened our first store in Whitefield, Bangalore in July 2013. Apart from our retail business, we are also a leading importer representing over 27 top international food brands. Suresh Kumar & Co (Impex) Pvt Ltd, the promoter company, is an ISO 9001:2000 & ISO 22000:2005 FMS certified company, which was established in 1990. Since the launch of our retail venture, there have been many changes in our assortment and operation. But our ethics and concept of business have remained the same. We still believe in bringing the right product at the price price for the consumer.
Which retail format(s) does your stores come under?
We have stores in convenience and supermarket formats. Our smallest store is 500 sq. ft. and the biggest one is 4,500 sq. ft. The total retail space for Good Food Store is 12,000 sq. ft. under operation currently. Another 3,000 sq. ft. of retail space is coming up and is under construction. At present, we operate five stores in Bangalore – two stores in Whitefield and one each in Sadashiv Nagar, Electronic City and Kanakpura. We are opening another store soon.
What kind of people frequent your stores and in which age group? Has the customer profile been changing in any way over the years?
The customer profile is dependent on the area we cover. But our major consumer profile comprise the young generation as well as families in the middle age group. For us, the consumer profile has remained the same. Our customer is not looking at an inferior product at a low price. Our consumers are typically those in these age groups and looking for quality product at the right price.
What is the location strategy for your stores?
We are now focusing on gated complexes in and around Bangalore. Please describe the range of merchandise available at your stores? While we do carry over 1,200 imported food products, we are not a gourmet store. We stock all major Indian food brands and staples, but we are not a discount store either. We are your friendly neighborhood grocer whom you can trust for quality and service.
Which are those elements that have become the hallmark differentiators of your stores?
For a small store, we have the widest assortment possible. From traditional south Indian spices to balsamic vinegar from Modena, Italy to north Indian chicken tikka to frozen Basa fish from Vietnam, we get the best products for our consumers. This has been the biggest differentiator for us.
Are there any interesting concepts or innovations you have introduced at your stores?
We were the first ones to launch traditional north Indian non-veg snacks in a supermarket concept in Bangalore. And we have customers who travel a long distance to buy this authentic assortment. We also have a wide spread of cheese and cold cuts in our stores, which are not easily available at neighbourhood grocery stores.
What is the strategy for merchandise display and category management in your stores?
Being a small size concept store, we are able to merchandise better and change the merchandising strategy according to the seasonal demand. For example, during summer period, beverages shall be given prominent display. During the festive season, gift packs take the lead. It all depends on the season, as well as the willingness of a brand to be present more prominently in the store.
What is the sales per square feet at your store?
It’s Rs. 2,100 per square feet /month.
Which are the fast-moving product categories in your stores and which are the best-selling brands for such products?
We are very strong with imported food products. In categories, beverages and snack food sells quite well. Dry fruits are an important category for us as well. Our sale mix is pretty well spread out.
Which are the new and emerging categories in your stores and why do you think they have market potential?
Health foods are really doing well. Things like flax seed, chia seeds, unfiltered apple cider vinegar are doing really well. Our customer base is the health conscious urban population that is aware of the health benefits of these products.
In which categories do you have private labels? We have private label in staples and snack food. What kind of margins do your private labels offer you compared to national brands?
We are not very big in private label right now. But now with more stores opening, we foresee this as a big growth factor in 2017.
Which new products would you like to introduce in this category?
We are looking at sauces, condiments, dry fruits and increasing our assortment of snack foods in the private label.
Having a broad and diverse supplier base is critical these days given the fact that consumers are looking for products that offer higher levels of satisfaction. What is your criteria for selecting suppliers? What are you doing to rope in more quality suppliers for different categories?
We are approached by suppliers every day. Due to the space constraint, we cannot introduce everything. However, we are always looking at adding new products based on the changing consumer demand. This is done in consultation with the store managers and regular consumer feedback.
What is your current supplier base and at what rate has it been growing?
We work with over 300 different suppliers across categories.
What are you doing to encourage smart and young brands at your stores? How liberal are you in trying out new offerings in your stores?
We are very open to new products. If a supplier is passionate about his product, we do our best to provide him/her with a good platform.
Do you have any tie-ups or collaborations with brands for category insights and better category management?
We keep on having special collaborations for special display of products. These are usually supported by special consumer offers.
Why it is important for retailers and brands to work collaboratively?
Retailers are an extension to the brands, a platform for them to showcase their products. Both of them complete each other. We are one of those concepts where we just not only keep the product on the shelf, but engage with the consumers to educate and inform them about the products available.
Which have been the instances where you have partnered with brands to build new categories and make more money than other categories/ brands or products in the same space?
We had launched an imported food range “Abbie’s” in the store. The importer played an aggressive role and we worked on a lower than usual margin to offer special offers to the consumer. Even with a lower margin, the sales turnaround was much higher, and we were able to make more money out of it.
Tell us about your marketing and promotional activities that you prefer for pushing sales in your stores – steps and measures with regard to ATL-BTL, digital, social media, etc?
We started with neighbourhood-based activities. However, now we are more focused on digital media and more of consumer engagement.
Have you developed your own loyalty or some other programme for pushing your private label sales? What has been the impact on sales, turnover, etc, of such programmes and offers?
We have recently introduced our loyalty programme. But we realized that we have a set of very loyal customers, who prefer to shop with us, irrespective of any programme. However, we are now able to attract many new customers, thus driving up the sales.
Will you concentrate on growing online or taking your store count up?
Right now, the plan is to take store count up. Online, we are collaborating with existing players and work as their distribution centres.
Tell us about your strengths and achievements so far?
We are a profitable business already and have created a space for ourselves in a very short span of time. Our biggest achievement has been the loyal set of customers we have been able to attract and retain. We have also been awarded the Coca-Cola Golden Spoon Award for the category – success with a new concept.
What’s n store for the future by way of your expansion?
We are now targeting at gates complex/ corporate parks as future growth of expansion. Also, few of our new stores would come up in high street locations as well. We are targeting a count of 10 stores in Bangalore by end of this financial year. Next year too would see expansion in Bangalore only. Post that, we intend to move to Chennai & Hyderabad, from where our future growth would come from.