This family-owned enterprise bets on brick & mortar stores with value retail chain stores

The More Group, a 1000 crore conglomerate and a family-owned business has forayed into the retail business of apparel and are further expanding with the launch of an organised value retail store chain, SNV Shoppee.

   
As lifestyle retail witness unprecedented demand, this third-generation family business evolves with new offering

The way Varun More looks at it, it was the right time to do it.

“We witnessed a different trend – the revenge buying concept. People got frustrated at home during the lockdowns. So, after the reopening of everything, they once again started going out and they resorted to big time shopping. It also became a part of their entertainment. This trend, which was earlier prevalent in the tier II and tier III cities, started emerging in the metros too,” he said.

Varun More is a third-generation entrepreneur and Managing Director at Sanvie Retail Pvt Ltd, a part of the Kolkata based legacy business the More Group, a Rs 1,000 crore conglomerate which is into the wholesale of apparel and textiles.

“The company was always keen on moving into the retail business where everything would be under one integrated company, where the journey from fibre to retail, everything will be in-house. Since the market conditions are appropriate for us now, we decided to start our retail business,” he tells us.

More than a just a pending decision

Aside from touting it as a pending decision, Varun had more than one reason to enter the value retail chain store segment, and the pandemic only served to expedite his decision. “It was more of a strategic decision,” he says.

Consumer spending is skyrocketing against the backdrop of retail trends such as rising demand and the desire to splurge, freedom of choice, multi-channels, and personalisation. According to research estimates, Indian’s consumer spending is likely to reach $6 trillion by 2030. This entails a tremendous opportunity for businesses.

Grabbing the opportunity, Varun expanded into the retail field with a chain of value retail stores, called SNV Shoppee, with an investment of Rs 150 crores in the first phase. The company has over 75 shopping outlets across various states of the country as of today.

“Sanvie Retail is a self-integrated company in textiles. We are right there, from the manufacturing of fabrics to the trading of fabrics to the manufacturing of garments to the processing of garments. We sell it through our distribution network and exports market,” says Varun.

Varun’s father Alok Kumar More, the Chairman of Sanvie Retail agrees with his vision.

Steering the More Group, he has been in the trade for over four decades and has seen the industry evolve.

In his opinion, the post pandemic trends are absolutely different from what he has seen in the past. “That’s why in 2021, we took a step forward to fulfil our ambition of foraying into the retail industry by establishing a new retail business by opening 75 stores across 9 states with the brand name ‘SNV Shoppee’ under the umbrella of Sanvie Retail,” he tells us.

Varun-More-Managing-Director-Sanvie-Retail

Brick-n-mortar are unbreakable

The retail segment has undergone a sea-change and has been witnessing major growth post-pandemic. One of the major shifts is of e-commerce—retail via online channels. But, instead of going into the online arena, Sanvie Retail is focusing on the value retail chain.

Why choose to fight the tide, we asked.

“Even if online businesses are there, brick and mortar will never die out,” says Varun.

“The reason being that people can’t be stuck at home for prolonged amounts of time. I personally believe that shopping is a part of entertainment. Yes, some core products and some standard products like electronics, the appearance, colour and feel of which does not change, are purchased online. But textile is a part of entertainment and has an aspirational value and a feel-good factor. Though people have bought clothes online, as soon as the lockdown was lifted, people started going out and the stores have started witnessing an increase in sales,” he explains.

According to Kearney Research, India’s retail industry is projected to grow at a pace of 9 per cent from 2019-2030, from US$ 779 billion in 2019 to US$ 1,407 billion by 2026 and more than US$ 1.8 trillion by 2030.

The revenue of India’s offline retailers, also known as brick and mortar (B&M) retailers, is expected to increase by Rs. 10,000-12,000 crores (US$ 1.39-2.77 billion) in FY20. India’s direct selling industry would be valued at US$ 2.14 billion by the end of 2021.

Flexibility and the strengthening of their online presence are the two other key takeaways from the pandemic for the retail industry. A flexible business model coupled with efficient management has emerged as the option for the retail industry to stay afloat during the pandemic.

Varun opines that like any other enterprise, they can’t dare to ignore the online channels. Soon SNV Shoppee is going to have its own D2C platform. “Very soon we are also starting our own online platform. Once we go online, we will be available in most of the pin codes pan India,” Varun informs us.

From manufacturing to value retail

The More’s are used to thinking long term.

Whether or not their foray into a new business segment was pre-planned, it was definitely a necessity to keep up with the trends.

While talking to them on the latest developments, we got to know many aspects of this family-owned business. The More Group was founded by Alok’s father, late Shyam Sunder Satyanarayan in 1946. The company is a pioneer in bringing denim to India and making it a commonplace fashion product. 

“He believed that denim would be the fabric of the future and would be worn by people from every stratum of society in India, so he shifted to denims from traditional fabrics,” Alok Kumar More reminisces.

And indeed, it is true.

Since it’s inception, the More’s family-owned business has been thriving on trends. In 1989, they founded a new vertical called Denimagic, one of the first denim processing plants in Eastern India. “With modest production and development, this plant became the biggest in Eastern India and the largest in India with technology and machinery purchased as early as 2004 from Spain and Turkey. This vision was the driver which started the evolution of the More Group and brought it in alignment with the international fashion revolution,” recalls Alok.

He tells us about the various achievements of his business and the developments that have taken place in it.

“We developed another factory named Mayur Processors in 1996, based on demand and supply. Following that, in the year 2000, the company started production as a 100 per cent export-oriented unit to serve the United States, the Middle East and the South American nations. In 2009, the More Group launched two new apparel brands named ‘Appleeye’ & ‘Mornee’ to cater to the kid’s wear and the Indian fashion segment, focusing on the domestic market. In 2017, the More Group launched Kolkata’s biggest indoor amusement park for kids named Whooppee,” he tells us.

And now, as the company moves into the value retail store segment, Varun feels that there is so much potential in this field.

“Retailers with their value-centric business model are making the brand acceptable and more appealing to the consumers. Nowadays, value merchandising is aiming to meet client demand with affordable pricing,” he says.

Due to this shift, the emergence of value retail merchandising has given a major boost to retail across India.

“At present the consumer’s needs have completely changed with the emergence of the value merchandising concept. Retailers are aptly utilising the opportunities in the fashion arena and assuring the consumers that they will get great value for the money that they are spending. Value merchandising has allowed the transnational or the ultra-expensive brands to go beyond the metros and serve the tier II and tier III megacity consumers too,” remarks Varun.

Keeping it fresh

In a nutshell, the More Group believes in change, adapting to the new demands and keeping up with the trends.

“As the saying goes, change is constant, and it is important to remain abreast with the changes that keep on happening in this ever-evolving world. It is, thus, extremely important to involve the newer generation in the family business to keep up with the changing times, the dynamics, the business environment, the customer outlook and the digital changes,” Alok More comments.

His son too espouses similar views.

“One must understand that a majority of the family– run businesses have persisted over generations despite the changing conditions because of their desire for operational excellence, but not exclusivity,” asserts Varun.

They also believe in migrating to new value-creating activities and doing away with the activities and practices that destroy value. “It is pointless to remain stuck to the traditional businesses and the outmoded practices. Many had diversified into different industries after exhausting the growth opportunities in their core business,” he reasons.

And that is what they are doing as well, he asserts.

Varun-More-Sanvie-Retail
(L-R) Varun More (MD), Alok Kumar More (Chairman) and Anand Kumar More (Jt. Chairman) of Sanvie Retail Pvt Ltd

Legacy businesses and family dynamics

There are numerous success stories of family-owned enterprises across India, and the More Group is one among them.

According to Varun’s philosophy, successful firms run their businesses based on trust and honesty. “It is generally the biggest determinant of success. The relationships of family members are grounded on trust. This keeps the businesses running smoothly and there are lesser problems witnessed due to issues with finances, operations or supervision,” he asserts.

But just like every family has its conflicts, so does theirs, which is natural say both Alok and Varun.

“Yes, there are conflicts of ideas because when the newer generation steps in, the ideas and the dynamics change. Their views towards new technology and the new world scenario are different. But we work it out…as the older generation also feels that the younger generation is getting fresher and newer ideas that reflect the global thought process. For instance, new technologies are coming into banking systems, payment options, etc. The world is evolving constantly, and the businesses too are evolving simultaneously. So, conflicts of ideas are not a big issue at all,” says Varun.

Alok feels that when it comes to family run enterprises, people compare entrepreneurs with the earlier generations.

“I feel that it is not justified to compare the second-generation entrepreneurs or inheritors of businesses with their predecessors. This is one of the negatives that come along with being an inheritor. Of course, there are many positives as well. We must look at it in their way when the young people ask us these questions- what did I inherit and what have I done with this inheritance,” he adds.

“What we inherited was a legacy. What we did with it is that we made it successful and sustainable. It has been a journey of reinvention towards excellence,” he comments.

Who’s next in line?

The More Group has yet to decide on a succession plan. However, when it comes to succession planning, Alok believes that it is critical for any family business.

“In general, family members with ownership stakes discuss and eventually reach agreements on key company matters based on expectations,” he points out. It is necessary to define the characteristics of the ideal candidates for leadership positions in accordance with the needs of the company. “Identify and assess those internal candidates who are the obvious candidates for succession,” he says.

He adds that he and his brothers, as well as the next generation, which includes Varun More, his son, are currently running their business in tandem with each other. “Ideally, the same pattern should follow in due course,” he says. He also tells us that as of now, they do not have a pre-planned succession plan. “We are proud of our accomplishments and hope to achieve even more in the coming years through new technology, innovation, and smart marketing strategies,” he further says.

Expansion on the cards

The More family led SNV Shoppee is a flagship product launched amidst the pandemic lockdowns. Now navigating ahead, the firm is looking to make major footprints across India’s tier II and tier III cities. At present the brand is mainly present in West Bengal, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and some parts of the North-Eastern states, a total of 9 states.

“To aid the expansion plans of SNV Shoppee, we have invested Rs 150 crores during the first phase. In the second phase, we have plans to invest another Rs 100 – Rs 125 crores by the next two years (2022-23),” he tells us while talking about his company’s roadmap.

Furthermore, Sanvie Retail is looking for investors to fuel their expansion plans nationally as well as globally. “We would be launching 10 more stores by March 2022. In the next phase there will be 50-75 stores in the coming 2-3 years,” says Varun as he signs off. 

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