India Today Group has identified yet another route to get closer to its consumer base – through an initiative in the retail space. The media major has launched Media Mart, which commenced with the Delhi market in January 2006. In June 2006, Delhi will see 19 more outlets go functional and Kolkata will come in the fold too. According to India Today Group CEO Ashish Bagga, the target is to have more than 50 outlets by the year-end.
One thing Bagga is clear about is that Media Mart is an independent business. Reiterating this, he said, “Beyond the obvious diversification it brings to our portfolio of businesses, we believe it helps in the forward integration of our flagship print media business as we reach the end customer directly, which we haven’t ever done in the past. Media Mart is a standalone business and we expect it to be profitable independently.”
Bagga explained that the group decided to enter retailing through a Travel Store format, which basically meant having kiosks/shops at railway stations, metro stations, airports and so on. As to why it chose Delhi to start the initiative, he replied, “Delhi Metro was the obvious first choice as it is a world-class metro network with great prospects. Such an initiative also enables us to get closer to the customer across different product categories.”
Adding further to this, he said, “In fact, both Delhi and Kolkata are the only cities with operational metro networks, and the respective metro authorities were in the process of inviting reputed companies for retailing in the stations. That said, even as we are currently opening stores/kiosks only in Delhi and Kolkata, our future plans are to go national, starting with major cities.”
Bagga didn’t divulge much on which other cities will be targeted for the retail venture, stating that a “decision on expansion to other cities and store formats will be taken in due course.”
The fact that India Today is treating Media Mart as an independent entity allows the venture to sell not just India Today products but also competition’s products. The objective is simple as Bagga explained. “Media Mart outlets are one-stop shops for the customer, where he gets his preferred brand and unmatched variety under the same roof. Hence, we sell competition in all product categories that we stock, magazines, music, books, etc.”
At present, there are two operational outlets in Delhi Metro (Kashmere Gate and Pitampura stations) and another 19 outlets, including two walk-in outlets at the Rajiv Chowk Metro station, have already been leased from DMRC. “These 19 will open by June this year. In Kolkata, we have leased eight outlets and all these will become operational in June this year too,” informed Bagga.