In two years since its launch in India, Japanese value retailer Miniso has opened 110 stores across 41 cities. It once had plans to have 800 stores by 2020, but it says that figure is hard to attain because India does not have enough malls. Yet, it will continue to focus on growth through malls and the high street, and is exploring the digital commerce space. It is also forging partnerships with manufacturers to make India one of its supply hubs. In an interview with Fortune India, Tyrone Li, India head, Miniso, spoke about the retailer’s plans for the country. Edited excerpts:
You had plans to open 800 stores in India by 2020, is that on track? Is there going to be more focus on online or more stores?
We have 110 stores in India... The target of 800 is almost not possible. The mall management is very different in India as compared to China or other countries. In China, we have some big groups like Wanda. We have a co-operation with Wanda, they have 634 malls. So when we got the contract, we got it for all the 634. But India is different. Big groups may have about 17-20 malls… So we have to do it one by one through cooperation and understanding.
Right now, we are talking to the groups one by one. In India, the number of malls is also very few vis-à-vis the economy and the population. In India, the high street is also another main consumer place. So we decided we should go to every [high] street.
We have invested more than $30 million in India, and we have another $40 million (worth) products here. We have a plan to open about 70 stores this year.
What about consumer behaviour in India, what have been your learnings, and how is consumer behaviour in India different than other countries that you operate in?
It’s quite different. I think the Indian consumer is very confident. We do business in more than 90 countries. In some countries when customers who try to negotiate with you or make certain demands are told what they ask for is difficult to do, they are likely to stop. But in India the customer believes that you can do it. A customer once told us that the price of a certain product was high and should be reduced by at least 50%. We did not refuse, and we thought we should try. We did an analysis of the product and the supply chain. The product was being supplied from Spain. We found a guy who could do it in Vietnam, so we changed the supply chain and started taking the product from Vietnam, and reduced the price by 20%. The good thing is that here the customer is very aware. In China and Japan, it is very difficult to get feedback from the customer.
Will you be supplying from, or manufacturing, in India?
We have already made a plan to purchase products in India and export to other countries. India will be the second biggest purchase country for Miniso. We have already moved some items to India. Some makeup and textile products are exported from here. But right now, these are on a small scale, because the supply chain is not just about manufacturing, it is also about how to ship, the country’s relationships with other countries
The number (of products supplied from India) is not very big because if we need to change the manufacturing country we will have to get a certificate again. It will take some time. Secondly, right now, our partners cannot do enough numbers. For example an eye pencil which was made in Korea and Japan—we want to move it to India, and monthly we need about 20 million units, but the factory (in India) right now can make only one million. So there is a big gap. But we have patience and we continue to give them orders.
Also, India has good relationships with most countries so we can export to America, Europe, Australia and East Asia... We plan to do exports worth $2million-$3 million from India this year.
Where do you see India in Miniso’s global scheme of things?
India is the future. This future is not just about selling products. One side is we want to purchase products from here, we want to do business from here, and India has an advantage because young people here can speak English well. We hope we can hire more management [people] from India and send them to different countries, different branches.
What is your revenue target for India for this financial?
We are targeting ₹480 crore revenue this year.