Some people buy flowers for Valentine's Day, this entrepreneur built a Rs 360Cr flower brand instead: FernsNPetals story
It all started in the 90s when Vikaas Gutgutia wanted to gift a bouquet of flowers to his girlfriend when he travelled from Delhi to Kolkata. And he was both surprised and let down by the lack of options then.
I was brought up in Vidyasagar, a small village in Bihar. To pursue further studies, I moved to Kolkata and also helped my uncle in his flower business. I developed my trading skills there and came to know a lot about flowers. When I came to Delhi and wanted to gift my girlfriend a bouquet of beautiful flowers, I was left disappointed. There were very limited options available and that too of poor quality,” Vikaas tells SMBStory.
Vikaas Gutgutia, Founder, FernsNPetals
This incident led him to study the flower market in Delhi, and, to his surprise, he couldn’t find a single place that sold a diverse range of flowers. While local florists provided a limited option of flowers, there were no standalone shops or delivery options dedicated to flowers. The bouquet design often lacked imagination, and with no better alternative, people had accepted this standard of gifting.
Smoking out the need for meticulous professionalism in the flower gifting industry, 50-year-old Vikaas decided to plunge into the floral market with Ferns N Petals by using his initial trading experience in the business.
In 1994, Vikaas opened Ferns N Petals in a small 200 sqft shop in South Delhi. In 25 years, the company has grown into one of the largest gifting portals in India.
I didn’t have enough funds to start this business but I had a firm belief in my vision. I contacted one of my friends in Kolkata and discussed the idea with him. He supported me and helped me with an amount of Rs 2.5 lakh to start the venture,” Vikaas says.
Sowing the seeds for Ferns N Petals
The initial few months were challenging for Vikaas when he had to grapple with extreme weather conditions and the perishable nature of flowers. However, his knowledge of flowers helped him overcome a lot of obstacles.
Ferns N Petals flower decoration in a store
"My shop was located in a prime locality of Delhi, which engaged a lot of customers. Since there was no other air-conditioned store for flowers that had an engaging ambience besides beautiful varieties, the idea was appreciated by customers.”
After gaining prominence with his first store, Vikaas expanded to other areas of Delhi. He believes that successful execution of the idea is what separates the dreamers from the entrepreneurs.
Today, Ferns N Petals outlets are seen across India, with the company pioneering the concept of the organised flower market in the country.
Vikaas was determined to provide Indian customers with the highest quality and the widest variety of domestic and exotic flowers, but he also recognised the need to reinvent and evolve to stay in the game. This is why Ferns N Petals forayed into the wedding business in 1996 and got his first wedding decor assignment.
My objective was to provide a first-in-India concept in flowers, and focus just on retailing would have made the brand sooner or later stagnant. Hence, I quickly learnt the trick of decoration and entered the segment.”
In 2017, the company also stepped into a separate venture - FNP Cakes ‘N’ More. Recently, Ferns N Petals entered the FMCG business as well, by launching its own mineral water brand by the name of FNP Water.
Today, Ferns N Petals has 300 outlets and a presence in 120 cities across India. It delivers across 170 countries worldwide, holding the distinction of the largest network in the flower delivery sector in the world.
The company records an annual turnover of Rs 360 crore with a presence in Singapore and Dubai too. The brand has made 6.1 million deliveries so far.
Making demands meet
Ferns N Petals works with flower suppliers from all over India, but mainly from Maharashtra and Karnataka. Roses, orchids, lilies, gerberas, daisies, and many more seasonal flowers are customer favourites. Adding more to flowers and expanding its reach, Ferns N Petals also offers gifting items for special occasions like rakhi, Diwali, Valentine’s Day, and more. The company also has 10 wedding venues (including one hotel) in Delhi NCR to offer spaces to host social and corporate gatherings.
Today, there are 12 verticals under the Ferns N Petals umbrella, including FNP Retail and Franchising, FNP E-commerce - India and UAE, FNP Cakes ‘N’ More, FNP Gardens, FNP Weddings and Events, FNP Floral Touch - UAE, FNP Gardens, WDH (Wedding Design Hub), Flowers ‘N’ More, FNP Flagship, FNP Water, and FNP Media.
Vikaas says that Ferns N Petals commands one-third of the organised flower market in India and is one of the largest chain of wedding venues in Delhi-NCR. He adds that the unique part of the business is the lack of absolute competition; the brand enjoys a monopoly.
Of thorny issues and blossoming milestones
Along the way, the brand has had to overcome several operational challenges, the biggest one being the logistics involved in delivering fresh flowers under hot weather conditions. Vikaas says that since there is no institute for training florists or certifications in flower decoration in India, he also faced issues while working with the small entrepreneurs of the company’s franchise stores.
But ironing out the kinks, Ferns N Petals has been helping its customers celebrate their special moments with flowers and gift items for 25 years now. Some key milestones in the company’s journey include:
In 1994- First retail outlet opened in New Delhi
In 1996- First wedding décor assignment
In 2002- Launch of www.fnp.com
In 2003- First wedding venue ‘The Kundan’
In 2013- Launch of ‘The FNP Flagship Store’
In 2014- Launch of Wedding Design Hub
In 2015- Going global through www.fnp.ae
In 2016- Launch of Udman (first hotel of the brand)
In 2016- Crossing the one-million-customer mark on www.fnp.com
In 2017- Launch of FNP Cakes ‘N’ More
In 2018- Opening of 300th retail outlet
In 2019- Entering the FMCG business with FNP Water
Shedding light on the future plans, Vikaas tells SMBStory that the brand is in the process of unveiling a couple of five-star hotels and expanding more into Tier I and II cities. Ferns N Petals is also planning to launch an IPO soon, Vikaas adds.
The journey has certainly has been no bed of roses, but Ferns N Petals has managed to create a brand that has now become an household name in India. In the current financial year, the company is expecting to cross Rs 500 crore turnover.