Interview: Pawan Gadia, CEO (retail & online), Ferns N Petals India, GCC & APAC regions

‘We will soon launch baby care, pet care services’

In India, we will be investing over Rs 150 crore in the next fiscal.
In India, we will be investing over Rs 150 crore in the next fiscal.

Ferns N Petals managed to record a 30% increase in revenue in FY21. In the current financial year, the flowers and gifts retailer aims to consolidate its offline presence. Pawan Gadia talks to Vaishnavi Gupta about taking the brand to newer territories within India and globally, the company’s target of launching 1,000 stores in three years, and more.

Tell us about your offline retail expansion plan for India. Which are your priority markets?

We are aiming to open 70 new stores in this financial year — 45 FNP Cakes n More and 25 FNP Flower stores — and expand our footprint to 24 new cities. Further, we plan to add 100 stores of FNP Cakes and FNP Flowers, respectively, in the next financial year. From the current 400+ outlets, we plan to have more than 1,000 outlets within the next three years. Lucknow, Bengaluru, Kanpur, Meerut, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Delhi, Visakhapatnam, and Bhopal are cities where we will expand.

We would be following the franchise model for expansion. For this, we charge a one-time fee of Rs 5 lakh from the franchisees. We help them with location selection, training, designing the interiors of the store, etc.

Ferns N Petals earned Rs 500 crore revenue in FY21, a 30% increase from FY20. How have you managed to offset the impact of the pandemic?

During the pandemic, as more customers shifted to online services, we launched fondant cakes, and cakes with Disney characters, which saw a huge uptake. We launched digital gifting options like musicians/ artists on call, online live music played by professionals, personalised video messages, etc. We also reduced our delivery time to one hour in around 100 cities. Additionally, we launched a new venture, Last Journey, which offers personalised services for a funeral ceremony. These include transportation and ambulance facility, arranging items for cremation services, organising prayer meetings, booking a priest/ pandit, and asthi visarjan services. This service is operational in Delhi-NCR, Gurugram, Noida, Ghaziabad, Mumbai and Bengaluru.

Our online business currently contributes 70% of our topline. In the current fiscal, we will clock around Rs 700 crore in revenue. We are targetting over Rs 1,100 crore revenue in FY23.

How did FNP Venues fare amid restrictions on social gatherings?

During the pandemic, we did over 80 weddings. In line with the changing trends, we made the required arrangements, like installing sanitising tunnels, for instance. In 2021, we saw exponential growth in weddings with over 600 weddings taking place. However, revenues have been affected drastically. We are expecting a full recovery by FY24.

Do you plan to add new product categories this year?

We will be adding baby care to our product portfolio by launching the brand BabyBless in the next three months. The brand will be a comprehensive service provider for all baby care needs, starting right from the pregnancy stage until the baby is a year old. It would include baby showers, pre-birth and post-birth photoshoots, naming ceremony, kuan poojan and full-time nanny services, etc, apart from baby care products.

We had planned to enter the pet care segment last year, but put it on hold due to the second wave. We plan to revisit this idea in the second half of this calendar year. Pet care would be a service segment, rather than a product offering. Additionally, we would be adding imported flowers and ornamental plants to our offerings.

What about your overseas foray?

We are planning to launch stores in Saudi Arabia and Malaysia this year, followed by the Philippines next year. In September, 2021, we opened our first brick-and-mortar store in Doha, Qatar. In any country that we expand to, we launch an online operation two years before opening an offline store. This helps in building awareness and understanding customer choices. The global business currently contributes around 30% to our topline.

What kind of investments will you make in India going ahead?

In India, we will be investing over Rs 150 crore in the next fiscal. We plan to invest in mass media marketing, with an aim to penetrate tier II and III markets. We will also be investing in setting up our own warehouses; we want to have delivery hubs in the top 10 metros. Besides, we are also in the final stage of raising about Rs 400 crore from private equity investors. 

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