Roundtable: Practices of Owner Driven and Owner Managed Retailers


Asif Merchant, MD, Catwalk
B A Srinivasan, CEO & MD, Viveks Ltd
Balakrishnan, CEO, ABC Apparels Pvt Ltd (Venfield)
R Maheshwari, CEO, Texpert
Rachit Mathur, Principal, The Boston Consulting Group
Rafiq Sait, MD, Gatsby India Ltd
Subhash Chandra, MD, Sangeetha Mobiles
Sunil Sanklecha, Founder, Nuts & Spices
Vivek Mendonsa, Director – Marketing, Lawrence & Mayo02
Amit Sarda, MD, Soul Flower

Moderator:Bijou Kurien

The five traits of enduring Family Businesses

12How can multiple generations co-exist in a family business?

03• The younger generation always infuses current perspectives into the business. This has helped us to move away from a “dukaandar” mindset into corporate set-ups.

• Letting-go is always difficult for older generations but prioritising growth is critical.

B A Srinivasan, CEO & MD, Viveks Ltd


04• Multiple generations can co-exist by creating shared values and by gauging ability of family members objectively.

• Loyalty, integrity and honesty – these have been our driving principles for 137 years from one generation to the next.

• Family members’ strengths are gauged and they are allowed to choose portfolios that they are passionate about.

Vivek Mendonsa, Director – Marketing, Lawrence & Mayo

How do you train and retain people?

05• Ownership values are the core of our business.

• We have build a family that has nothing to do with blood ties.

• This have enabled us to launch 377 points-of-sale in 10 years.

• We have learned from our mistakes and tweaked the business models several times.

• We have created entrepreneurs at every level, especially at the front end. We make our people dream like us.

Asif Merchant, MD, Catwalk

What are the strengths and challenges of a family-owned retail outlet?

06• Once we get fundamentals right, scalability is a matter of time.

• We believe in hiring people at the bottom of the hierarchy and elevating them to managerial positions in 5 years. Thus we have grown from 57 lakh to 65 crore in 15 years.

Sunil Sanklecha, Founder, Nuts & Spices


07• Money and material are available but manpower is a challenge. So we believe in cultivating our people and creating a sense of belonging.

• Although I allow my children to drive the business, I encourage them to have some principles of fairness and loyalty.

Rafiq Sait, MD, Gatsby India Ltd

How can a brand be built in the textile and apparel industry?

• We value the ideals of ownership and entrepreneurship. Brand values are an extension of this.

• These values have helped us to establish 166 stores across 19 states and 77 cities.

R Maheshwari, CEO, Texpert LTd

08• We were pushed to start a brand because some of the leading brands in the market at that time refused to supply merchandise.

• Today, we are retailing across 28 stores and our products are sold at some of the leading multi-brand outlets in the country.

Balakrishnan, CEO, ABC Apparels Pvt Ltd (Venfield)

How do retail entrepreneurs in India perform vis-a-vis others in the world?

09• Nine of the 25 richest people in the world are retailers. This demonstrates opportunity in the industry.

• Indian entrepreneurs seem to take longer to adjust their mind-set to evolve their business.

• South Asian markets have a lot to teach India about business aspects such as standardisation v/s customisation.

• Indian retail entrepreneurs are unparalleled in their knowledge and understanding of their local markets.

Rachit Mathur, Principal, The Boston Consulting Group

How do retail entrepreneurs plan expansions?

10• From one store in 1974 to 2002, we have opened 100 stores until today.

• We corporatized the company nearly two years back. However, family members maintain a hands-on approach.

• We have introduced many value-added services to drive sales, such as insurance, service home-delivery and two-year warranty.

• Constant innovation has enabled us to avoid dilution of equity.

• Being a South-based company we have now ventured into Delhi and Chandigarh on a franchise basis.

• Our expansion model was driven by the boom in telecom sector.

Subhash Chandra, MD, Sangeetha Mobiles

What are the pros and cons of the franchising model?

08• Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) are what separate a owner-managed outlet from a franchise-holder.

• As an owner, one has the freedom of not following SOP. However, franchises have to follow SOP to maintain brand identity.

Balakrishnan, CEO, ABC Apparels Pvt Ltd (Venfield)


11• I established Soul Flower with the singular concept of introducing India to aromas and essential oils.

• Creativity is the key to our business.

• Franchising, for us is about scale.

Amit Sarda, MD, Soulflower

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Retailers Association of India (RAI) is the unified voice of Indian retailers. RAI is a not for profit organization (registered under section 25 of Companies Act, 1956), works with all the stakeholders for creating the right environment for the growth of the modern retail industry in India. RAI is the body that encourages, develops, facilitates and supports retailers to become modern and adopt best practices that will delight customers. RAI has a three charter aim of Retail Development, Facilitation and Propagation.