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Dal to diet cola, a dial away
- Convenience store chain setting up 19 AC outlets by the Pujas

Hosting friends at short notice these Pujas' Just dial D for anything from dal to diet cola and it will be at your doorstep, from the new superstore in the neighbourhood, “inside the hour”. And with add-on gifts to shore up your kitchen.

Aapka Bazaar, India’s “fastest-growing” chain of convenience stores, is hitting town this festive season, to bring “organised retailing” in groceries, provisions and FMCG products to the nooks and corners of Calcutta.

“We are kicking off with 19 air-conditioned franchisee outlets, 14 in Calcutta and five in Howrah, each having around 300-sq-ft carpet area, a week before the Pujas. Our target is to open at least 100 convenience superstores in the city within a year,” says Indranil Majumder, vice-president (marketing), Aapka Bazaar Jaipur Pvt. Ltd. With every store catering to a radius of two km, the chain hopes to put in place a network to serve the entire city in “six-seven months”.

The company, with a projected turnover of Rs 100 crore-plus this financial year, has turned its focus eastwards after establishing a firm foothold in Delhi, Rajasthan and UP. Before venturing east, Aapka Bazaar undertook a six-month-long market survey of retail, consumption pattern and family size “to know the city better”.

The retail chain hopes to win over Calcutta with its “well-formatted showrooms, wide range of grocery items under one roof, hygienic packaging, free home delivery, low prices and attractive consumer schemes”.

Says CEO S.K. Mathur: “Since we source our supplies directly from the manufacturers, we can afford to sell below the MRP and if you take into account the freebies with practically every buy, shopping from Aapka Bazaar works out almost 13-14 per cent cheaper.”

With low overheads, small inventory and daily replenishment, the chain is confident of giving the hole-in-the-wall kirana shops a run for their money.

"Our only competition is from the unorganised sec tor," admits Majumder, looking at an average turnover of Rs 5 lakh per store per month. "Since the demand in this segment is need-based, the nearer the product is to primary needs, the faster it moves. So, we plan to get into highrise complexes."

Aapka Bazaar will later have a central call centre, with a toll-free number. As part of a gradual backward integration programme, the chain will also launch its own line of products, like cooking oil, atta and detergent. Explaining the chain's philosophy, the CEO says: "We don't believe in niche marketing. Anyone can walk into an Aapka Bazaar outlet and feel at home."

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