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Speciality mobile stores set to multiply

india Updated: Apr 29, 2008 21:21 IST
Ruchi Hajela
Ruchi Hajela
Hindustan Times
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If you are a consumer, nothing succeeds like excess. With an explosive boom in mobile phones, companies in the industry are setting up or expanding their own specialist retail chains involving thousands of planned new stories that would make it easier or cheaper for you to shop for handsets, accessories or recharge services.

And most certainly, you will also have a great deal of variety from which to choose – right in your neighbourhood – besides the promise of efficient service.

Leading mobile labels are aiming to catch and grow more consumers in a market that already has 250 million subscribers, and the new stores would obviously be a notch or two above local stores where a handset or coupon is loosely sold like an electronic good.

“The overall mobile retail market in India is estimated between Rs 70,000 and Rs 75,000 crore,” Pankaj Mohindroo, National President of the Indian Cellular Association, told Hindustan Times .

Spice group-owned chain Hot Spot offers mobile phones and accessories across its 310 company owned stores in 29 cities across India. The company has plans to increase the number of stores three-fold to about 1,000 stores by the year-end. It also plans to increase the number of its service centres from 75 to 500 by the end of 2008.

“The USP (unique selling proposition) of Hot Spot over other retail chains is the availability of products and services,” said Sanjeev Mahajan, CEO, Hot Spot Retail. The chain offers an additional one-year warranty on handsets it sells and buyers can go in for a service coverage pack that entitles them for repair even if the handset gets water logged.

Mahajan said that the retail chain is looking at setting up 85 franchisee-owned collection points where users can deposit their faulty handsets for repair. The company also plans to introduce its own private label of accessories.

RPG Cellucom, the mobile retail arm of RPG Enterprises, has a presence across 16 cities through 165 outlets. The company has plans to invest about Rs 400 to Rs 500 crore in the current financial year to have a total of 500 stores. The retail chain goes beyond cellphones. “We sell products such as personal digital assistants, laptops, accessories and even recharge coupons that enhance mobility,” said Biswajeet, Head of Marketing, RPG Cellucom. The chain is also considering opening its own service centres and is in talks with companies like Nokia for partnerships.

Subhiksha Mobile, a unit of the supermarket chain of the same name, present across 100 cities, offers the lowest prices on all mobile handsets. "We also offer the customer the added advantage of having a Subhiksha Mobile store within a one km radius anywhere in the city,” said Mohit Khattar, President, Subhiksha Trading.

MobileNxt, which offers guaranteed exchange of handsets, plans to invest about Rs 100 crore over the next two years to increase the number of stores to 500 from the existing 52, said Vijay Menon, CEO of the retail chain. The company also gives out a low-end cellphone as a temporary substitute to a user who may have deposited his device for servicing.