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Spencer’s Retail: RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group aims to turn profitable in consumer business within 2-3 years

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RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group vice chairman Shashwat Goenka said the group is confident of turning profitable its consumer business comprising retail stores such as Spencer’s Retail, Nature’s Basket and the FMCG business within the next two to three years.The financial turnaround will be achieved by reducing debt through a mix of restructuring and repayment of loans, exiting loss-making stores and categories, and entering a new high margin retail format through world-class luxury gourmet stores, said Goenka in an interview.The group, meanwhile, continues to hold talks to sell a minority stake in Spencer’s Retail and plans to list the FMCG business at the “right time”, said Goenka. He didn’t elaborate.

The new luxury retail format– Nature’s Basket Artisan Pantry–will be housed under Nature’s Basket, and it will offer luxury gourmet food products with several first of its kind products in the Indian market and higher share of imported products. These stores, set up over 8,000-12,000 square feet as compared to the usual 2,000-3,000 sq ft for Nature’s Basket, will not only generate more revenues but add 1-2 percentage points to gross margins.

The first Nature’s Basket Artisan Pantry store will open this weekend in Mumbai’s Palladium Mall, Goenka said. He said a second store will open in Mumbai while Kolkata will get its first store by next month, and 3-5 stores next fiscal including in the National Capital Region and Bengaluru. “These stores are globally comparable only with Harrods Food Halls in London. These stores will breakeven in 2-3 months of their starting operations and contribute much higher to the topline,” he said.

Last quarter, the group closed 22 highly loss-making stores of Spencer’s, leading to an exit from Tamil Nadu and Kerala. There are currently 135 Spencer’s and 32 Nature’s Basket stores.

Nature’s Basket had been carrying debt of around Rs 100 crore when the group acquired the business from Godrej in 2019, impacting its profits.

“We should make Nature’s Basket net profitable next fiscal. We can do a combination of loan restructuring and payment which will be decided by the board in the future. The business is growing at a double-digit pace quarter-on-quarter,” said Goenka.

The Nature’s Basket standalone business narrowed its net loss to Rs 25 crore in the first half of this financial year from Rs 30 crore a year earlier.

However, Spencer’s standalone business nearly doubled net loss to Rs 108 crore in the same period this fiscal from Rs 57 crore last fiscal. Goenka said Spencer’s business will take 2-3 years to start generating net profit though it is likely exit this financial year with positive earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda).

The FMCG business – run by Guiltfree Industries – had posted sales of Rs 423 crore last fiscal, growing by 22% year-on-year with a net loss of Rs 336 crore, which swelled from Rs 236 crore in FY22. Goenka said the FMCG business is currently in the scaling-up stage and will take at least three years to start making net profits.

He also said its ‘Too Yumm’ packaged snacks brand is growing at 50-60%, while it has just relaunched the personal care business in direct-to-consumer mode selling online to test the market, and will accordingly decide on whether to scale it up.

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