The name of your company is Flemingo Duty Free. What is the significance of the name?
A. We started in Africa and wanted to associate with something, which has an African origin. Flamingo is a bird which is well known as global traveler and has an African origin. Hence we chose the name with a slight tweak in the spelling.
How do you operate?
We are a duty-free retailer, and in India we operate at international airports and seaports. Globally we are present in 34 countries through 200 operations. In India, we operate at 11 international airports and eight seaports. Our airport stores are located at Kolkata, Chennai, Trivandrum, Calicut, Mangalore, Trichy, Amritsar, Lucknow, Jaipur, Goa, and Ahmedabad. In Mumbai, we operate in a joint venture with DFS. We sell liquor, confectionery, and perfumes at our stores.
With the expansion of departmental stores, consumerism in India has evolved. E-retailing is also on a high curve. At this stage, to what extent to do you expect people to buy products from your stores?
In this era of e-retailing, we have kept customer’s convenience as number one in the priority list. Our pre-order website helps customers book their order before they start travelling. Once they book their order on our website, they just need to pick it up at our store from a separate pre-order counter. It saves the customer’s time as they do not need to browse through the store and then shop. Along with this, customers get additional discounts when they shop online.
You are global company based in Dubai and the consumer demand changes in India across its different regions. Why would Indian consumers be attracted to your stores?
Though we are headquartered at Dubai, we have our regional offices in every country we operate in and we have local staff in these offices. This helps us in understanding local consumer patterns. We then source products accordingly. For example, consumers in Amritsar prefer Scotch whisky while the southern stores have demand for blended whisky except Trivandrum. Trivandrum customers want Cognac as well. Consumers in north prefer Vodka more than any other region in the country so we store more Vodka brands. We are a global company with a local touch and hence we keep preferences of our customers in mind. We also conduct market researches to understand consumer’s needs and preferences.
What kind of expansion or investment plans do you have in the coming years for the Indian market?
We recently won tender at nine airports for seven years. Kolkata and Chennai are part of these which are among top five international airports with connections to all major destinations across the world. Besides the core duty-free products, we will also have fashion and fashion accessories, destination and electronics categories at these stores.
As a global business operator, how do you develop your corporate social responsibilities?
Flemingo as a company has always believed in giving back to the society especially in the markets that we operate in. We have activities throughout the year in each of the regions which are for under or less privileged. For example, the recent Chennai floods left thousands homeless and their livelihood was lost. We ensured that certain percentage of our sales through that month was kept aside for the relief operations by the company. Also, in the past we have associated with various other causes.
What is the major challenge in operating in India?
Each region of India has very unique customer base and we have to tailormake our store merchandise mix accordingly, unlike in some other parts of the world where customer preferences are more homogeneous.