Marketing

‘Consumer confidence, spends have returned'

R. RAVIKUMAR VINAY KAMATH | Updated on March 12, 2018

Bijou Kurien, President & CEO, Reliance Lifestyle Division, and Gudjon Reynisson, Global CEO, Hamleys, at the launch of the toy store in Chennai. Photo: Bijoy Ghosh   -  Business Line





It's a festive atmosphere at the Express Avenue mall in Chennai. Colourful balloons adorn the entrance to Hamleys, the world's most famous toy store. Reliance Retail, Hamleys' franchisee in India, is opening the second Hamleys store in India, after Mumbai. One spots a London red bus with Chennai emblazoned on it as one enters the store and is greeted by a giant Hamleys bear. The store itself looks like a treasure house for children – stuffed bears of all sizes, innumerable other toys and games, a master of ceremonies in a red coat and top hat performing all manner of tricks, a giant bumble-bee going around lazily on the ceiling, all adding up to a fantasy world for child and adult alike. Bijou Kurien, the President & CEO, Lifestyle of Reliance Retail, along with Gudjon Reynisson, the CEO of Hamleys, is upbeat about the store. Kurien says the store will offer everything to suit all pockets, be it inexpensive toys or pricey ones. Recognising too the fact that the way today's children play has changed, the store stocks a large amount of edutainment and computer-related games. Kurien says that in its Mumbai store, almost 40 per cent of sales come from ‘edutainment' toys. Post store-opening, Kurien spoke to BrandLine on whether spending has come roaring back after two years when consumers kept their wallets in check and sentiment was weak. Excerpts:

Is consumer confidence coming back and are people beginning to spend more? What is the trend you are seeing in your stores?

Certainly, I think, confidence is returning to consumers in terms of spending. They are getting to be a little more extravagant in their spending compared to the thrift that we saw in 2008 and 2009. If you translate this in terms of conversions, they have grown 10-15 per cent across all our formats. (Conversion is how many of those who come into the store actually buy.) The conversion percentage has grown to the 30s from the late 20s in the last two years.

Have average bill sizes too been going up in your stores?

Yes, the average bill values have grown roughly, depending on the store format, from 10 per cent to above 30 per cent. Some of these, of course, are inflation-led. For example, if you take a fine jewellery store, if the average bill value increased by 30 per cent, you should not be surprised as the gold price has gone up by over 35 per cent; and some of that is due to larger shopping baskets.

Also, during the slowdown, people were focusing on value and on basic products. Now you find them slowly indulging themselves in premium products and also looking at things which are impulse-driven, and not just need-driven. These are the larger macro trends we see amongst consumers today.

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Published on February 02, 2011
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