ARUN MAHAJAN, MD, STYLE SPA TALKS TO VAREEN RAY & AVNEESH SINGH ABOUT HIS COMPANY’S FUTURE PLANS TO ENTER THE LUXURY & PREMIUM SEGMENT WITH A DIFFERENT BRAND ALTOGETHER
 
This K. K. Birla Group company has already redefined the furniture business in India and is set to make new benchmarks in the near future. Arun Mahajan, the MD of the company reveals to 4Ps B&M that how in a matter of just a few years Style Spa has grown to become one of the largest furniture retailers in the country.

Today Style Spa is the largest furniture retail chain in India. What are the factors that can be attributed behind the success?
Post the end of the JV, we were not too sure whether we wanted to stay in the business in the long. term or not. But about a year ago we decided to make Style Spa into one of the core business of the group (KK Birla group). The factors that led to the success are after sales services, repeat customers, modular furniture, strong back-end operations and of course the quality without which any product will find it difficult to succeed in the market.

With the furniture market in India still largely unorganised and fragmented, what steps have you undertaken to educate customers?
There are a few initiatives that we have taken this year and the most important being our brand campaign, which will be launched this month. This will be our first brand campaign and that too on a pan India basis.

Could you elaborate on your expansion plans?
At present we have 97 stores and we are planning to add another 20 to 25 outlets and have a total of around 120 stores in the next one year. You will be surprised to know that out of these 97 outlets, we own 89 of them. During recession when most of the franchisees could not survive, we thought that it was better to have our own showrooms. We’ve confidence in our own model as this will serve us well in the long run.

What is the target audience you are catering to?
We can’t really say which segment because these segments change from city to city. Even if you see the middle class we can bifurcate middle class in three different parts like upper, middle and lower middle class. We’re still not catering to upper class. I would say that Style Spa is still positioned to the lower end of the upper class and the middle and upper end of the middle class. Then the class changes from city to city like middle class in Delhi would be equivalent to upper class in a tier 3 city. We have not yet got in to the premium class or the luxury class which is the upper end. So in that sense our positioning is very clear.

Do you plan to enter any other segment other than the ones you are currently present in?
Within a year we do plan to enter the luxury segment and the premium segment with a separate brand and we plan to open separate boutiques for that. What I mean by boutique is that we will have separate boutiques according to the product line. For instance, a separate boutique for sofas, a separate boutique for beds, et al. The feel, experience, people and the stores will be different to that of Style Spa. Our format will be like if you are looking for sofa the customer will know that this is the place where I can get my sofa and likewise for other products we plan to have separate boutiques.

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Source : IIPM Editorial, 2011.

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