Winner of MPEC 2009
Jay told us about how the idea struck him and how it all evolved saying “I started business in 1996 when I stumbled upon an article in a magazine which selected – Chain of Hotels, Banks and Retail as ever growing profitable businesses. I opted for Retail, initially to get into the garment and footwear business by opening franchisees stores for brands like Colour Plus, Adidas, Nike, Weekender, Provogue, Quickies coffee shop etc. but soon realized that I was not able to give the BEST to the customers. The customer wanted to buy brands at an affordable price.”
“After a lot of pondering I got into the idea of giving the best brands to the customer at the best prices under one roof by setting up the 1st ‘The Loot’ store in 2004. The Loot can thus be considered as the pioneer of multi branded discount chains. The Loot was the only multi-brand retail venture that offered minimum 25% off –upto 60% all 365 days of the year on guaranteed products and prices. The concept was well accepted & appreciated by both the customers & business associates. Soon there was multiplication of the stores & The Loot has set up over 110 stores (approximately 300000 sq. ft. retail carpet area) in 75 cities and 20 states throughout the country.”
It is safe to say that most of our readers by now will certainly be searching for their share of “The Loot”, however cheap prices are not their only attraction. Jay told us how the store serves all customers young and old. He said “Anybody and everybody can benefit by shopping from The Loot. Earlier we targeted only the youth but today we are a family store and target men, women and children. The target audience is quite versatile and varies from upper, upper middle class or middle class. We are targeting a mass audience. We have changed the shopping habits of people and made big brands affordable to everybody.
“The Loot is a multi-brand discount store offering minimum 25% discount which goes upto 60% - throughout the year. I think we have revolutionized the value retailing segment as we are the pioneers of this concept. There is still a huge potential in this category and we are definitely leveraging on it.”
You may not have heard of The Loot before this but chances are you will in the coming days. Jay plans to have at least one store operational near you in the coming year. He states “The concept has been well received and considering many factors e.g. rising young population, increase in disposable income, awareness about brands etc. there is huge scope for expansion of the stores. We are therefore planning to be amongst the Top 3 retail companies in the next 5 years and have a plan to have over 1000 stores pan India by then.”
His zest for entrepreneurship was implanted by his family. He explained how they influenced him saying “Belonging to a small business family, I have always been looking upto my father and seen his dealings and day-to-day activities…that’s when the passion of doing something unique on my own developed. Apart from this I have always been independent and the thought of service or working under someone never occurred to me.
Right from my younger days, I wanted to do something on my own & create an organization.”
Once Jay decided to put his idea into action there was no stopping him. That does not mean he had it easy. Jay told us about his difficulties saying “Environmental challenges were to fight stringent rules & regulations and red-tapeism …. In retail one needs to get 20+ approvals of various laws including licenses and non-practical laws, file various returns etc.”
“The challenges were team management & financial management to take the company to a much different and higher level and keep fully equipped with infrastructure and to handle competition. It has been possible to meet these challenges by having a professional management at all levels.”
“To build a competent team for growth and development and to clear internal and external misconceptions about the concept of The Loot was the challenge particularly convincing the consumers about the quality of the merchandise and convey to them that we are not dealing in seconds but are original surplus product stores.”
His family and friends supported him and backed him with finances. However Jay was contemplating something else entirely, he says “The only thing in my mind was to recover and repay the loans at the earliest.”
Since then they did recover and in stellar fashion. Jay reports “We have grown at a very fast and consistent basis at the rate of about 80% increase y-o-y and we currently have over 110 stores pan India with 2 offices in Mumbai, one in Bangalore and opening shortly in Delhi.”
With over a 100 stores within 4 years of the inception of the company, “The Loot” happens to be the fastest growing chain of multi branded discount stores.
It is no wonder then that the media sat up and took notice. The Loot was nominated one amongst a series of 12 startups – “Small Ideas Big Changes” by The Hindustan Times.
As per The Franchising World (2008), The Loot is amongst the Top 50 business opportunities in India.
The Loot has been conferred with the following awards:
“Star Entrepreneur Award”
“Pioneering efforts in retail concept creation”
“Young Retail Achiever of the Year Award”
“Star Youth achiever Award”
Personally Jay regards the “TATA NEN Hottest Start up award” as the most prestigious award as yet. He describes his entrepreneurial journey saying “It’s an adrenaline rush, seeing the company grow at a fast pace and watching content, satisfied customer’s increases this drive.”
Jay is no stranger to success and passed on his views on how to attain it saying “The idea has to be stemmed out of customer needs and wants. There has to be enough market potential for the business. I also think personal observation and experience should be put to use building up this idea and the target audience should be kept in mind.”
“My personal example: At a time when branded apparel retail was taking flight in India, I sat behind a desk at the retail franchises outlet and watched several people walking in but very few of them actually buying anything. That is when I realized that although the business had a lot of potential customers, they did not convert into sales. And then I decided to bridge the gap in between the average Mumbaikar’s desire to own a brand and his unwillingness to spend on it. From this observation The Loot was born.”
“Stay put, enjoy what you are doing, lots of hard work and dedication is the mantra to success.”
We congratulate Jay on his entrepreneurial vision and wish him the best for the days to come.