In an interview with CNBC-TV18, Lalit Agarwal, Chairman and Managing Director, V-Mart Retail, said that footfalls will continue as long as stores are open. Agarwal mentioned that demand has been strong so far, however, since last week, there has been a bit of a drop in footfalls due to Omicron fear.
"We have not seen too much of footfall drop, but there is an impact, which has started coming in from last week. We started seeing a little slowdown in footfall from the last week. So, it was almost below the pre-COVID levels," he said.
On revenue, he doesn’t see a big drop due to rise in the number of COVID-19 cases this time around. He explained that consumption has come up and since the company caters to needs, customers will buy when they need to.
"The segment that we feed into is the need-based segment, primarily where the need is there, people will have to buy because it is compulsory for them. So that's how this retail works and it should work. So I don't think there should be a drop or too much of a drop in revenue, going forward," he said.
Agarwal mentioned that V-Mart is currently operating 300 stores. Another 74 stores have been added recently. He added that only 20 percent of the additional area has been taken over from Arvind Unlimited group. According to him, the integration has been very good and revenue is back to pre-integration levels.
"We are already operating with existing 300 V-Mart stores. We added 74 stores, which is not even 25 percent of our existing count. So it's only 20 percent of additional area that we have taken over from the Arvind Group. The integration has been very good. It has come up very well. We have started getting back the original revenue that we were getting before the integration," he explained.
Agarwal said that the company is looking to digitise as long as it’s profitable as well as convenient for the customers.
"We are aware that digitalization is penetrating and it is taking its own space and it will definitely bring in opportunities for everyone. We have already penetrated into the space; we are still hovering around 1-2 percent of our revenue from the digital channel. But we anticipate that we should reach more than 5-10 percent revenue within two-three years," Agarwal said.
He added, "We want to still be a profitable omni-retail channel, where we will service our customer, give convenience to customers who reside nearby (our stores) or in the areas where we are not operating and give them those conveniences in bad and difficult times."
On store openings, Agarwal added that they may see some postponements if COVID threat increases.
"There may be some postponement if the variant rises to a level which is threatening. So we will not want to put our project team at risk and also not open the store in bad times. Our team is preparing to open another 12-15 stores this year. But maybe we will postpone it for some time," he said.
Watch the accompanying video for the full interview.