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Posted: Friday, 21 June 2019 08:13

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Wine Retail: Madhulika Bhattacharyya a.k.a. Madame La Cave sprinting ahead

June 21: Madhulika Bhattacharyya, who opened the modern retail store La Cave in Select City Mall in Delhi in 2015, opened a new one in Indiranagar Bangalore in mid-January this year and has also being looking after the shop-in-shop at Godrej Nature’s Bounty in Mumbai, Pune and now in Bangalore, writes Subhash Arora who feels a significant factor in growing with supersonic speed could be because of total support from her husband Aman Dhall, the leading importer in India

Conceptualised by her and her husband Aman Dhall of Brindco, the largest importer of multi-branded wines La Cave took birth in mid 2015. She has been running the store that also sells beer and liquor. Aman however, gives total credit from conceptualisation to execution to her. She does not mind admitting that he has given her free- hand total support in her retail dream.  She expands the customer base by organising wine events including dinners by collaborating with restaurants across India.

Godrej Nature’s Basket (GNB)

She expanded her retail operation later by contracting with Godrej Nature’s Basket (GNB) in Mumbai which has since expanded to Pune with 2 stores and 7 in Bangalore as well. The contract covers all such stores, she says. ‘Nature’s Basket operation is purely run by us. It’s a shop-in-shop model - from interiors to wine selection to the staff are all managed by us. Each store is a mini La Cave.’  

La Cave Bangalore

She opened the new La Cave store in Bangalore in mid January this year. The store is much bigger with over 5000 sq ft space and stocks choicest wines and liquors. She had organised a dinner with Bangalore Wine Club a couple of weeks ago where 8 premium wines were served. Her clientele at these events is affluent and aspirational who are potential customers as well.

I visited the store earlier this month in Indiranagar where It’s buzzing  with people talking about it. ‘It’s the latest go- to destination for wine and liquor purchases. Everyone loves the space and design,’ she says. It is spread over two stories, the upper one having a full section of wines- with Indian brands Sula, Grover, Fratelli, Krsma and Big Banyan vividly displayed. Imported wines include several premium wines that are relatively slow to move but do attract attention.  Fastest selling are between Rs. 1500-2000.

‘The Bangalore crowd is very discerning and we knew from the wine events we organised that Bangalore was ready for La Cave. Imported wines are only from Brindco as they already have 310 labels. We have a wide range of Indian wines as well as imported wines.  ‘We had done 20 wine dinners in Bangalore even before we opened La Cave.  We even repeated the Fine Wine Affair in 2017 after a successful 2-day event with Oberoi Gurgaon,’ she says.

The store has been recording 12% growth on a month on month basis. It is packed on weekends when people come and buy several labels at a time. About 30% of shoppers are women who feel  comfortable shopping for wines.

‘La Cave has become a big brand now. Who knew it would become so big in such short time?’ says Madhulika.

Godrej Nature’s Basket (GNB) stocks mostly Brindco brands except a small mix from other importers as well. Godrej is work in progress really.  There are currently 25 stores in Mumbai including the new ones in Vivaria Mall Mahalaxmi and Vile Parle. Bangalore had 7 when I met Sam Chandy, Manager for Bangalore operations of GNB La Cave.

Madhulika is very candid in admitting that the exponential growth is possible because of pro-active thinking and full support from Aman Dhall-financial, moral and contracting with parties like GNB.

Spencer’s has recently bought the GNB business. How would it impact their relationship with them, I ask her. ‘I don’t think we have any problem and our contract will carry on with them. We have a considerable investment in Mumbai GNB La Cave,’ she says.

Like Sonal Holland She also believes Retail has a big future in India. But it needs to be expanded by increasing the base of regular customers. Her wine dinners are well advertised and help generate new business.

She has also been one of the Indian Top Ten WOW 2019, based on her performance in Retail business.

For an earlier Article on Wine Retail, please visit:

Wine Retail: Sonal Holland MW teams up with Foodhall for Wine Retail

Subhash Arora

 

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