Value fashion and lifestyle products retailer, V-Mart Retail, started its retail journey in 2003 with its maiden store in Law Garden, Ahmedabad and since then there has been no looking back. Today, the brand has 179 stores spread across 149 cities and 14 states.
In an interview with IMAGES Retail, Lalit Agarwal, Chairman and Managing Director, V-Mart Retail says, “Reflecting back, I would say that this journey actually began in my childhood, when my father started a tailoring shop in Odisha. Retail is in my blood, and V-Mart is first and foremost, my passion and then a business.”
The brand is mostly present in Tier II and III cities, and is now expanding to Tier IV as well, following a cluster-based approach.
“All our new store launches have been getting very good response, thus underscoring the growth potential in our target markets. Typically, our stores are planned in high-streets and high footfall locations and have an average size of 8,000 sq. ft. Sticking to our core business model, we don’t have any plans to expand in Tier I and metro cities,” adds Agarwal.
The USP of V-Mart is a price-value equation that puts customers first, and consistently delivers or exceeds their expectations on both quality and price.
According to Agarwal, “We are a value fashion retailer; our customers are the young and aspirational classes. Compared to other brands, we have maintained an unwavering focus on our core target audience, and they have patronized us with unmatched loyalty, in terms of repeat buying and word-of-mouth recommendation.”
The punch-line of the brand ‘Price “Less” Fashion’ emphasizes on the value retailing segment while focusing on affordability.
“Our products are chosen after a rigorous quality control and evaluation process and are meant to fulfill our promise of unmatched value at reasonable prices,” reveals Agarwal.
V-Mart caters to the fashion needs of the entire family. While apparel is the centerpiece of the product portfolio, the brand is also a preferred one-stop destination for footwear, home furnishings, toys, accessories and grocery.
“Our buying and product planning teams are constantly scanning the emerging consumer trends and preferences, to ensure a product mix that delights our target audience,” adds Agarwal.
The brand has invested significantly in improving the product display making it easier for the customers to find relevant product easily, made the store more vibrant, introduced customer loyalty program, provided easy product exchange facilities and above all started communicating with the customer more often.
“The customer is the reason we exist, and it is our main aim and priority to keep bettering their experiences – in-store and outside,” says Agarwal. Towards this, V-Mart looks to ensuring a seamless experience for its customers by integrating online and offline experiences.
According to Agarwal, “We see online as an opportunity rather than as a threat and plan to leverage our geographical spread in servicing customer needs using online and in-store mediums. This is easier said than done, as it involves significant improvements in product standardisation, cataloguing, packaging, logistics and communication – all centered around technology.”
“We are working on a concerted plan to deliver a seamless digital experience to our customers and have exciting innovations to make this transition as a company,” he adds.
Supply Chain & Logistics
V-Mart’s supply chain is centrally managed. The brand has a central warehouse of 2.2 lakh sq. ft. in Bilaspur, Haryana, from where all products are distributed through a mix of market placement and company-owned vehicles.
“We have a state-of-the-art Put-To-Light (PTL) system at our central warehouse and manage it through the best-in-class retail warehouse management system (WMS). In order to meet our future demands, we are also looking at setting up a second warehouse which will be operational by the next financial year,” says Agarwal.
Further, V-Mart has invested significantly in strengthening the supply chain and logistics network in the last couple of years. Apart from automating the warehouse through the implementation of a WMS, the brand has introduced many other technology-aided tools to enhance productivity, reduce shrinkage and enable faster throughput.
“We are further evaluating to ramp up the warehousing capacity and have undertaken a deep study to asses our logistics requirement for the future for which we need to initiate investments now,” adds Agarwal.
Best Performing Departmental Store
In April 2018, a report quoting a Jeffries brokerage report, resonated optimism about India’s organised retail market. It also indicated that V-Mart has been the best performing departmental stores chain this year as its shares rose 10-fold since it began trading in February 2013.
Expressing his happiness, Agarwal says, “We achieved this distinction, thanks to the faith our customers, investors and employees have consistently placed in us. As a company, and a brand, we believe in following three basic principles – providing lasting value to our customers; earning the trust and respect of our customers, investors and employees; and, focusing on fundamentals that drive the retail business. The rest, as they say, follows. I am confident that, as a company, we will continue to chart new and more exciting milestones, and create even greater value for our customers, investors and employees.”
As a part of ongoing expansion drive, V-Mart has identified new locations in existing clusters, as well as entirely new territories, example, the North East. The brand plans to invest Rs 300 crore to double store count and treble its turnover to Rs 3,500 crore in the next five years
“We aim to grow at a healthy rate and will continue to expand using internal accruals,” says Agarwal.
The brand has been growing at a CAGR of 25 percent in the last 5 years and internally targets to maintain a similar growth rates for the future. In 2017-18, the company had reported a revenue of over Rs 1,200 crore.
“Our same-store sales has been growing at a CAGR of 8 percent YoY. We are internally targeting to achieve similar numbers in the future,” concludes Agarwal.