When the MobileStore, a countrywide chain of telecom retail outlets, takes to the dais for the World Retail Awards in Paris on October 8, it will join the ranks of global giants like Tesco, BWG Foods, Debenhams and Pep Stores to vie for a place in the top spot. The Essar Group-owned venture is the only Indian company to be nominated this year and is only the third company from the country to reach the nominations after successful wins by Pantaloons in 2007 and Shoppers Stop in 2008.
Talking about the company’s nomination for the awards in the ‘supply chain initiative’ category, its CEO Himanshu Chakrawarti says the intention was to reduce the inventory level, which was about 20 to 27 days in 2011, as most prices kept dropping and margins were slim. “We wanted to develop the algorithm for forecasting, assortment mix deployment, auto-ordering and replenishment, and also to utilise the existing IT system to deploy these solutions across multiple channels,” says Chakrawarti, adding that the inventory level has now been reduced to 18 days, which has resulted in an improved operating cash flow and has allowed the company to be more financially flexible.
Chakrawarti is optimistic about their chances of winning the award, but is keeping his fingers crossed as he doesn’t want to underestimate others in the league. “It’s difficult to say because the nominees are all different from each other. It depends on the jury, on which features they like,” he adds. Although Chakrawarti is worried about the recent RBI diktat ending interest-free EMI options, he is hopeful that the industry will find a quick solution. The company is also focusing on strengthening its online presence, which accounts for about 2-3% of its sales, and is hopeful that it will only grow further in the near future.
‘Supply chain’ may be its forte, but The MobileStore is also betting big on the new ‘lounge’ format for its retail outlets, which has reportedly increased their revenues by as much as 40%. Buoyed by the positive response, it now plans to convert about 100 of its existing stores into lounges, while adding about 50 such stores across top 10 cities in the next 10-12 months. The recently-opened Noida outlet is the third lounge for the company after the ones in Pune and Delhi.
Ratnesh Sinha, a 20-something college-goer from the capital city who’s planning his first cellphone upgrade, visits