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Wine Retail: Madhuloka to open Madhushala after Paathshala

Posted: Friday, 05 December 2014 17:29

Wine Retail: Madhuloka to open Madhushala after Paathshala

Dec 05: The fast expanding Retail Chain for selling wine and liquor in Karnataka, Madhuloka is expanding fast with the new specialty wine store christened as Winexpress debuting in Whitefield last week, preceded by Enoteca by Madhuloka, a wine educational venue (Paathshala) to be soon followed by the Delicatessen by Madhuloka to operate as a tavern (Madhushala) in the Tata Tesco joint Retail centre Star Extra taking shape on the outskirts of Bangalore, writes Subhash Arora who visited the various centres along with the Director, Lokesh Kasalagere last Saturday

Click For Large ViewAfter operating successfully and expanding the Madhuloka liquor and wine stores, their owner Lokesh Kasalagere opened a specialty store last week in Whitefield on the outskirts of Bangalore. Christened as Winexpress, this wine-only store with better and more exclusive variety of wines will be followed by several of these smaller format stores of 300-400 sq ft format, he says.

Recently, Lokesh also opened an ‘Enoteca by Madhuloka’ which is like a ‘Wine Paathshala’ where one can study about wine at different levels. For instance, a WSET-1 course was conducted last weekend and a wine workshop is being organised tomorrow (December 6) where the Sommelier Shruthi Mannar is conducting an appreciation evening for 6 noble grape varieties for a very nominal cost of Rs. 1000. There is an open invitation from Lokesh to anyone in India to conduct a wine education programme.

From Paathshala, he is moving on to the next project-Delicatessen by Madhuloka and is already in the process of setting up the store within Star Extra-the first store to be opened by the Tata-Tesco joint venture. With a winery license tucked in under his belt, Lokesh plans to operate a Deli with wine and beer added to light food items including salads etc. In what could be termed a ‘Madhushala’ one may order wines from the Menu, priced only marginally higher than those to be sold in the adjoining Winexpress. He clarifies that one may not purchase wine from the store and bring to the Deli which will operate independently.

Click For Large ViewMadhuloka is a supermarket type of concept that was conceptualised by Lokesh Kasalagere in 2007 in Bellandur in Bangalore with the objective of making it easier for families to come and buy their wine and liquor supplies without hesitation. ‘With 4000 sq ft total area out of which 1000 sq ft was dedicated to wine, we were one of the biggest Asian stores. Currently we have 19 Madhuloka stores and plan to open 4 more within a month. ‘Enoteca by Madhuloka’ is a wine library (this is different than the term used normally for wine library where the wineries store their older vintages to taste and assess their performance and ageing potential in the future years-editor) and is meant for teaching about wines. It’s a platform for anyone to conduct tastings or wine related educational programmes. It has over 1500 sq ft area with a seating of around 40, but can accommodate 80-100 if standing,’ he says.

‘Average size for a Madhuloka store is 1000-1500 sq ft. We have one store with 300 sq ft and it does good business too. On the average 10% of the total revenues are from wine sales. We are able to sell around 1000-1200 cases a month but during Christmas the sales go up to 1500 cases. This is because the companies offer several deals which are passed on to our customers. We also have a loyalty card with which we give points that may be redeemed later.’

What is the purpose of Winexpress where they sell only wines? ‘Though our customers can buy from the Madhuloka stores we wanted to give more variety to our evolved customers. We are initiating this concept because wine is becoming very popular in Karnataka. A recent wine festival in Hubli where we collaborated with the Karnataka Wine Board, was a big eye opener- over 10,000 people visited! The consumption is expanding fast in 2-tier cities. There we are trying to educate them.’ He was quite excited about my suggestion that they should make a wallet-fitting card where the basic info might be given to anyone who walks in, with a phone number where a customer may call in for any query about wines. This card would have the basic information on storage and serving. ‘I will take your idea and even give a number to call for any enquiry. We should be able to start it within a week,’ he promised.

Click For Large ViewSo what are the trends in buying wines and what are their offerings, I ask. There are about 600 labels in a store and around 10 imported wines sell for Rs. 1000 or less. Italian, Chilean and Argentinean wines are doing well but otherwise they are well distributed and diversified in terms of country of origin. But he conceded that domestic wines accounted for 80% sales with expats trying all wines – both Indian and imported. He says Indians try to stick to the same brand whereas expats are willing to try various brands and types.

Although there is a website of Madhuloka, the sales are not online and the website takes one to some retail store from where the sales are handled physically. There are about 450 wines listed. But he was quick to add that wines are delivered to one's residence for such orders.

How about pilferage as a menace? 'We have taken precautions but surely, we lose a nominal amount of Rs. 10000 to 15000 every month', he says as he narrates an incident where a lady walked in wearing a saree. Next day the video revealed that she had lifted her saree and was wearing a contraption where she ensconced a bottle of imported vodka and walked out confidently! Bewrhi or a kleptomaniac-hard to tell but Lokesh is presented with new issues all the time and a lot of interesting things are happening in Madhuloka-the ‘world of wine’.  

Subhash Arora

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Tags: Karnataka, Madhuloka, Winexpress, Whitefield, Enoteca, Lokesh Kasalagere, Enoteca by Madhuloka, WSET-1, Shruthi Mannar, Tata-Tesco, Bellandur, Enoteca by Madhuloka, Karnataka Wine Board


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