Croma steps on the gas

K.R. Balasubramanyam        Print Edition: December 16, 2007

If its builders deliver on time, then the Tata Sons-promoted Infiniti Retail will have 100 plus Croma outlets all across the country by 2010. The large-format, multibrand retail chain sells consumer electronics and durables, and has a presence in five cities with 11 outlets, including the one recently launched in Bangalore.

Infiniti Retail, which operates the Croma brand of stores, is racing ahead to have a national footprint, but is constrained by the delay in completion of projects by developers. Factors ranging from shortage of labour and cement to municipal approvals have slowed down launch schedules. The 20,000 sq. ft Bangalore store, launched on November 23, is, in fact, Infiniti Retail’s debut, not just in the IT capital but in the South.

From here, it will move to Hyderabad and Chennai before setting foot on Tier-II cities like Coimbatore, Mysore, Mangalore and Kochi. Infiniti has plans to set up 31 Croma stores all across the country, including Delhi by March 2008. “In the next two years, we will have eight stores in Bangalore,” says Infiniti’s MD & CEO, Ajit Joshi. On an average, a Croma store costs between Rs 3.5 crore and Rs 5 crore, including infrastructure and the inventory.

Despite the wafer-thin margins in durables retail, Joshi says Infiniti’s experience in Mumbai has been good. Its store here—it offers more than 6,000 products across eight categories of consumer electronics and durables—has been getting around 2,500 visitors per day and the number goes up to 3,500 on weekends.

As much as 25 per cent of them convert into sales, he claims. Since scale is the single-most important thing in mass retail, it’s no wonder Infiniti is in a hurry.

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