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Arambagh’s Foodmart: Focus on Convenience and Quality

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Sandeep Kumar
Sandeep Kumar
A multimedia journalist with over eleven years of experience in print and digital media, Sandeep Kumar is assistant editor with Images Group. Books, retail, sports and cinema are an inextricable part of his life.

Biyas Roy, Executive Director, Arambagh’s Foodmart talks about the Kolkata-based chain’s focus on offering convenience to customers in everything from its store locations to its checkout processes and home delivery

New Delhi: Started in the year 2000, Arambagh’s Foodmart chain of convenience retail stores are a household name in East India. Based on the international concept of 7-11 (stores that are open from 7 am to 11 pm, seven days of the week), the chain has 80 stores in 24 cities of West Bengal. Out of these, 43 stores are in Kolkata, 26 in tier 2 cities and 11 in North Bengal (including Siliguri, Jalpaiguri and Malda).

The average size of the no-frills food and grocery stores is 600 sq. ft. – 1000 sq. ft. Main items are fast-moving consumer goods like grocery and staples, toiletry, confectionery, frozen products, personal care, household care, ice-cream, office and school stationery.

The First Store

The first Foodmart was converted from an existing ‘Arambagh’s Chicken’ chain of stores selling processed and ready-to-eat chicken items. At the time, the concept of shopping under one roof was new, which helped the food chain gain instant acceptance. The popularity of the Arambagh’s Chicken brand too helped its case.

Slowly, the company started opening more stores. In 2012, the Foodmart division with 25 stores and a warehouse was incorporated into a separate company named Arambagh’s Foodmart Pvt Ltd. In 2014, the chain ventured to tier 2 cities of West Bengal, and in 2016 the brand established its presence in the North Bengal retail arena by opening stores in Siliguri, Jalpaiguri and Malda.

In an exclusive interaction with IMAGES Retail, Biyas Roy, Executive Director, Arambagh’s Foodmart talks about the Kolkata-based chain’s focus on offering convenience to customers in everything from its store locations to its checkout processes and home delivery.

Edited Excerpts:

What sets you apart from competitors?

Arambagh’s Foodmart offers convenience or ‘value for time’ along with ‘value for money’, especially to the increasing number of nuclear families, working couples and elderly couples living alone – who do not want to, or cannot go out grocery shopping, At Arambagh’s, convenience is provided in terms of location of store (near markets/on the main road with parking space), quick checkouts, free home delivery for any order amount and telephonic order acceptance.

Value for money is provided through exclusive promotions every month rather than price cuts. Instead of loyalty cards, we believe in creating loyal base of customer through such services, convenience and instant gratifications like a free item on higher bill value.

Tell us about private labels.

We have our private label range of groceries and staples that are of high quality and hugely popular amongst our regular customers. Apart from that, the regular FMCG products are sold. In addition, most of our other products are prepackaged products, sourced from manufacturers and brand owners. The groceries are sourced locally or sometimes directly from producers from different parts of Bengal.

How do you manage inventory?

We use ‘Automated Replenishment Software’ to manage buying and inventory and we work with very lean inventory. We also monitor and manage the ageing of inventory closely to guarantee freshness of products.

There are separate teams responsible for monitoring damage/expiry, food safety, cleanliness and hygiene and they do regular and surprise audits.

Can you explain your approach to pricing?

We do not do deep discounting. We run attractive promotions every month. We sell our private label of groceries at a very attractive price, keeping the quality high. We also give a free item of the customer’s choice (out of a few options) on higher bill values.

Do you sell online?

Online retailing is particularly challenging in food and grocery where delivery time as well as freshness of food are critical and inventory management is a challenge. Our stores are small and run on a lean inventory. We still have a few things to sort out before we start online order acceptance.

What is your strategy for merchandise display and category management?

The stores have no-frill merchandising. Every bit of space is utilised with customised assets to store maximum product range, without causing clutter. The usual food and grocery merchandising norm is followed with extra visibility for promotional items, new introductions, and local tastes.

What are your future expansion plans?

The size of the category of customers who seek value in terms of not just price or promotions, but in terms of convenience, is increasing. Stores are smaller in size, sale velocity is higher than super or hyper format, and costs are significantly lower. This format has the potential to remain profitable if the basics are done correctly.

We do not have a specific store count planned, but our goal is to have our footprint in all tier 2 and tier 3 cities of West Bengal by the end of 2025. Parallelly, we will be educating customers in smaller cities about reliance on quality and service-based retailing rather than price-based retailing. By 2026, we plan to venture into the northeastern states of India.

The Growth (FY 2022-23)Average Monthly turnover of stores: Rs 11.5 crore

Sales per sq. ft per month: Rs 2214

Annual Turnover: Rs123 crore

Same store sales growth: 11%

New stores opened: 11

Arambagh’s Foodmart: At a Glance

Total Number of Stores: 80

Average Store Size: 600-1000 sq. ft

Region Covered: West Bengal

Key Categories: Staples, Confectionery, Snacks, Personal care, Household care, Frozen, Ice-cream, Cold drinks, Office & School stationery

Store USP

  • Service Level

o Quick reach

o Quick checkout

o Telephonic order

o Free home delivery for any bill amount

o No-frill merchandising

o Multiple payment option

  • Product Level

o Free items on every bill over Rs2000.

o Attractive promotions all year

o Optimum product selection to include daily need items

o Best quality private label of groceries

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