RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group keen to expand Nature's Basket in Kolkata

After acquiring the Nature’s Basket from the Godrej Group in a Rs 300 crore deal, the RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group (RPSG) is keen to expand this brand of grocery retail in Kolkata and is currently scouting for space to open the first flagship store.

Sanjiv Goenka, the group’s chairman, said that Spencer’s Retail – the acquirer belonging to the RPSG group stable – intends to set up 15-20 stores under Nature’s Basket brand. Ideally, while each of these stores should be between 4,000-5,000 square feet, the maiden store in the city should have an area no less than 10,000 square feet.

“We are keen to expand this brand in Kolkata and desperately scouting for available space across the city”, he said.

These stores are arranged in format of neighbourhood convenient stores and the RPSG group currently wants to limit the operational scope of Nature’s Basket to Mumbai and Kolkata only.

Under its former owner, Nature’s Basket, in the last decade and a half since its launch, tried to enter Delhi, but with little success.

“However, another different brand-name has already been registered and the Spencer’s board will take the final call if we will use the Nature’s Basket brand name or any other. Ideally, I think it should be Nature’s Basket”, Goenka said.

The private labels of Nature’s Basket, which includes Healthy Alternatives, L’Exclusif and Nature’s, will also be made available across these upcoming stores.

In Kolkata, Spencer’s already has strong presence across the city with 37 stores in various formats. 

However, Goenka believes that the brand positioning of these brands is different and hence the customer base may be different as well.

While Spencer’s alone has 156 stores across 33 cities in the country, Nature’s Basket is currently limited to 36 stores in Mumbai, Pune and Bengaluru. The acquisition had effectively translated into the retail division of the RPSG Group expanding its footprint to 192 stores and gave it access to western India. 

Operational since 2005, Nature’s Basket sells products ranging from fresh fruits and vegetables to fish and meat, artisanal breads, FMCG, and staples. Some of the stores in Spencer’s have a similar kind of portfolio, but it also focusses on gourmet food and apparel as well.

The erstwhile Godrej Group firm posted a turnover of Rs 338.28 crore in the last financial year, which is an increase of 17.08 per cent from 2017-18 while Spencer’s reported a 109.68 per cent rise in its net revenue at Rs. 2187 crore in the year ended March 31, 2019.

Focus on R&D

The RPSG Group has also increased its budget for research and development (R&D) by five times in the next 2-3 years to come up with various products in different segments.

While it recently inaugurated an R&D centre in Palej in Gujarat for its carbon black business, from where, two distinct products are expected to be rolled out in the next three months to boost profitability, it is also in the process of expanding its FMCG business.

Its technological team is currently working on various products in Ayurveda, personal care, Indian ethnic snacks and others under the Guiltfree Industries portfolio. Once a significant number of products are developed under a certain category, the company will go for its commercial launch.

Phillips Carbon Black, another RPSG group firm, is scouting for space across Europe to open another R&D centre.