Mahindra Retail, which has entered the retail space through its Mom & Me stores, expects to have 150 stores by the end of the current fiscal.

The company intends to remain focused on specialty retail that deals with the needs of mothers, infants and children, according to K. Venkataraman, CEO, Mahindra Retail, which is part of the $15.4-billion Mahindra & Mahindra group.

In an interview to Business Line , he said the investment in the retail stores had already crossed the Rs 100-crore mark and by the end of this month, the company would have over 100 Mom & Me stores and 25 Beanstalk stores. He expected the number of stores to reach 150 by March 2013.

Franchise model

Asked whether the company planned to run the stores on its own or would look at the franchise route, he said of the proposed 150 stores, 10-15 of them would be franchise stores.

Venkataraman explained that Mahindra Retail is “working on finetuning the model that would enable success in franchising’. In the next 2-3 years, the proportion of franchisee stores would go up to 30-40 per cent from the 10 per cent proposed to be achieved by the end of this fiscal.

Elaborating on the advantages of the franchise model, he said it would help the company to have more stores within a short time and also “bring the local expertise of business required in smaller towns”.

Recession proof?

On whether the company’s customer focus on infants to 9-year-olds did not restrict the business growth, he said this segment (-9 months to +9 years) was a “very large potential segment and life stage in India”. He said this was supported by both demographics and increasing expenditure levels due to “higher disposable incomes and propensity to spend on children”.

Asked whether this business segment was recession-proof, Venkatraman said though no business was entirely recession proof, as mother and child category was intrinsically emotional and functional, “this business is moderately recession resistant”. The turnover this year would cross Rs 200 crore. The company was also recording a “healthy double-digit same-store-sales growth”.

Venkataraman, asked whether the company was looking at inducting an equity partner, said “there are no plans at present’.

Asked if the company was looking at other segments like men's wear, women's wear etc, the Mahindra Retail CEO said his company had recently launched a toy store format under the name “Beanstalk” and the company was now “focused on Mom & Me and Beanstalk only”.