India is showing potential in organic food exports
Anil Kumar Verma, COO, Savings Hypermarket UAE, a major importer of Indian F&B products, talks about the company’s expansion plans and relations with Indian food suppliers. He expresses confidence that Indian exporters will be able to leverage the growing demand for organic food products.
IBT: What is Savings Hypermarket’s current business size, number of outlets, key product segments, market presence and customers it caters to? What retail formats have you explored (supermarket, hypermarket, departmental store, etc) and how do you see the relative importance of each?
Anil Kumar Verma: Savings Hypermarket is the largest store in UAE with a total area of over 20,000 sq. m. We offer our customers a wide range of products in all major categories including dry food, frozen, fresh, household products, electronics and electricals, kitchen appliances, garments and shoes etc. We have collaborated with over 600 local suppliers to supply us and we cater over 1.7 million customers visiting us annually.
IBT: What role has the pandemic played in transforming the post-COVID landscape of the F&B industry? What changes is it driving in customer purchase preferences and habits (especially tilt to online shopping) and how are you adapting your business strategy?
Anil Kumar Verma: All the businesses are severely impacted and food retail is no exception during this ongoing pandemic, however we all believe that nothing is permanent and the world will soon win the battle with pandemic. The COVID-19 situation has transformed the buying habit to a larger extent as visiting a hypermarket for the weekly shopping with the family used to be a social event here in the UAE.
However, the scenario has completely changed now. People have adopted online shopping as the new normal. The current ratio of buying is almost 40% online and the balance 60% is only offline now, whereas it used to be around 15% online earlier. The brand is soon launching a user friendly e-commerce platform to meet the growing demand of our customer who wants to buy online, especially for their daily and urgent needs.
IBT: How does Savings Hypermarket stand out among the competition in the retail space for its customers? What strategies are adopted to ensure that your customers get the best quality at competitive prices?
Anil Kumar Verma: Savings represents that customers who buy from us must save on their purchases due to the very competitive price as compared to several other retailers in the market. There are several ‘Saving Shelfs’ in each aisle of our store which are very popular among our customer due to the product and price we offer to our customers here. We have our loyal customers, who even take the benefit of our loyalty program; wherein they get cash back on their purchases on top of the cheapest price what we offer in our weekly promotions.
IBT: What are your expansion plans in terms of products, number of outlets and new markets in the coming years?
Anil Kumar Verma: Savings Hypermarket has expansion plans to launch smaller format stores across UAE with a clear focus on Fresh and organic products. We believe that the ‘eat healthy’ concept is something which is gaining popularity now. People are ready to invest in their health and are more cautious now to consume healthy food, even if it costs a little extra.
IBT: How do you see India as a sourcing hub currently for F&B products, and its potential in the future? Any particular products where you see untapped potential to be explored?
Anil Kumar Verma: I have been working in a leading role with prominent retailers in the hypermarket/supermarket business in UAE since more than two decade now, wherein I have dealt with several Indian suppliers to import food here. India is among the top exporters of foodstuffs to UAE and companies have very strong ties with the local distributors to supply most of the popular brands. There are more and more new suppliers entering into UAE market now. I believe organic food market is going to pick up now.
Originally published in Fresh – The Indusfood Chronicle. Fresh is the official magazine of Indusfood, the flagship annual F&B trade show organised by Trade Promotion Council of India.