By Abhirup Roy
MUMBAI (Reuters) - Indian cosmetics-to-fashion retailer Nykaa plans to more than triple its brick-and-mortar stores to 300, founder and Chief Executive Falguni Nayar said, significantly building its offline presence in the country.
Nayar declined to give a timeline for the rollout but said the company was targeting 100 cities, adding to the 84 retail outlets it already operates in 40 cities.
"The process of store expansion had slowed down due to (COVID-19) pandemic for a year or so," Nayar said in an interview for the Reuters Next https://reutersevents.com/events/next conference broadcast on Wednesday. "But this year we have revived our store rollout."
Though Nykaa largely operates as an e-commerce platform selling everything from global cosmetic brands to jewellery, Nayar said the physical stores, targeting Indian consumers wanting to buy touch-and-feel products, were a critical part of the business.
Despite rapid growth of e-commerce and the likes of Amazon.com in India's near $900 billion retail market, most shoppers still buy products offline.
Nykaa has said it is targeting a sub-segment of that sector - the $70 billion beauty, personal care and fashion market.
Like many other retailers, Nykaa was hit hard by the pandemic as work-from-home rules reduced demand for office wear, cosmetics and shoes. The company last month reported https://reut.rs/3xylnxE a 96% slump in quarterly profit.
But things are looking brighter as the COVID-19 pandemic eases, and India's festive and wedding season gains pace.
"Clearly there is a revival in make-up (products) which was pre-pandemic," said Nayar, a 58-year-old former investment banker, in a Nov. 25 interview.
Nayar garnered massive public attention last month when her company made a glowing stock market debut https://reut.rs/32xHMzO with a valuation of $14 billion.
Top private equity firms such as TPG and Fidelity, and Indian Bollywood stars Alia Bhatt and Katrina Kaif, have financially backed FSN E-Commerce Ventures, the company that owns Nykaa brand.
Nykaa, which sources many products from Europe, is also focussing on ramping up exports of its own private brands to the United Kingdom and the Middle East.
Still, Nayar said India remains the priority given the country's massive growth potential.
Many Indians, Nayar noted, are "yet to buy their first watch, first car, first home - I think India is in a very different place compared to other developed economies."
To watch the Reuters Next conference please register here https://reutersevents.com/events/next
(Reporting by Abhirup Roy; Additional reporting by Chandini Monnappa; Editing by Aditya Kalra and Jane Wardell)