Roundtable: Emerging Trends in Specialty and Regional Retail



Hemant Taware, COO, The Mobile Store

Rahul Chadha, CEO, Religare Wellness

Yogesh  Jain, iSense / Iway Retailers

Kinjal Shah, COO, Crossword BookStores Ltd

Rishab Soni, MD, SSIPL (Lotto, Nike)

Asim Dalal, MD, The Bombay Store

Rahul Vira, CEO, Gilli India Ltd

Atul Ahuja, VP Retail, Apollo Hospital

Nimish Shah, COO, Landmark Group

Swarup Chandrashekar, COO, Deepam Silk Retail, Pvt Ltd

Ravi Pahuja, COO, Chokola

03Moderator: Ameesha Prabhu,



What differentiates specialty and regional retailers from other national and international players?

  • The consumer durables industry is driven by growing customer awareness due to large scale media coverage.
  • Currently, mobile penetration is very low in the Indian market and t02his creates aspirations among the youth to acquire latest gadgets.
  • There is a significant rise in number of people with the expertise and subject-matter knowledge about mobile technology.
  • The pace at which Indian consumer durables industry is introducing innovations is remarkable and that makes us stand out and creates differentiation.

Hemant Taware, COO, The Mobile Store


0470% of our sales come from prescriptions.

However, once the customer comes to our Point of Sale (PoS), it is our service that keeps him coming back.

Rahul Chadha, CEO, Religare Wellness.


05We sell powerful brands – Loto & Nike.  We draw footfall from brand recall and brand values.
Studying the customer’s preferences is critical to the business.
Since we have a young clientele, the language that we use to communicate is important.
IN-store experience has to be consistent with the brand.

Rishab Soni, MD, SSIPL Retail Limited

Our reputation as regional retailers has been a great asset.

Our customers know that we are more dependable than a network-based retailer.

Relationship-based business model where the customer knows that we are always available to resolve issues.

Intense knowledge of the local area boosts business.

Yogesh Jain, Owner, Eye-sense opticians

How do you overcome huge operational costs?

06We are a gifting based business and one must be prepared for experimentation.

Right-sizing is the key.

We have reduced space at some important locations to less than half and have increased business by 90%.

Optimising operational costs is often about using the normal business cycle to both grow, and down size when relevant. The key is to try and build a flexible cost structure.

Asim Dalal, MD, The Bombay Store


07Jewellery retail in India still belongs to the unorganised sector. Hence, they are our major competitors.

Due to high investment in merchandising and inventory, we have taken a conscious decision to rent small ticket sizes.

We believe in franchising, so we have opened stores in cities as small as Jangalpur in Chattisgarh.

Smaller cities have latent demand for jewellery,  franchising gives us the ability to create a flexible cost base.

Rahul Vira, CEO, Gitanjali Gems

Consumer Acquisition – Innovations

08The Apollo Brand is a powerful force for customer acquisition – and also has helped as attract franchisees.

About 60% sales in pharma industry takes place within a medical ecosystem i.e between a doctor, pharmacist and patient.

Hence we tried to tap into the remaining 40% where educated consumers are concerned about wellness, especially derma cosmetics.

Our merchandise mix includes supplements and energy management SKUs – to help with acquisition of new customers.

We have also introduced a loyalty program.

60 million people in India suffer from diabetes. So we introduced a karela-jamun juice as a preventive solution.

Atul Ajuha, Vice President – Retail, Apollo Pharmacy

Malls – fit for specialty retailers.

09Malls have been great for us in terms of attracting potential customers.

However, choosing the right location is essential. For example, we have ventured into cities such as Surat, Kohima and Patna where we are the only bookstore.

Rentals have been rationalised in recent times. This allows us to increase our ticket-size in malls.

As a category i.e book retailers, we are preferred by malls. But we have to insist on the right positioning.

Kinjal Shah, COO, Crossword

What are malls doing to attract specialty retailers?

There is lack of understanding in malls regarding store segmentation.

Service providers are low on rentals. However, they attract foot-falls.

Specialty stores are the real income for malls and they need to have better strategies.

Yogesh Jain, Owner, Eye-sense opticians

07Usually, international brands get the first preference on the ground floor of a mall.

Although not cheap, I think malls are a great prospect for specialty retailers.

Rahul Vira, CEO, Gitanjali Gems



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