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Home > Business > Special


A florist and a chaat seller

Priyanka Joshi | October 27, 2005

He is a florist whose company prettily wraps 100,000 stems every day. A wedding planner who is all set to take charge of nearly 500 premium weddings this season, Vikaas Gutgutia, the brain behind Ferns 'n' Petals, is putting together important business expansion plans for early next year.

For starters, he's giving final touches to an academy for flower management, and setting up a chain of home accessory stores. This is besides the recent luxury flower venture he's launched with fashion designer J J Valaya. He's also in the process of starting a fast-food chain that'll promote India's favourite street food -- chaat.

Having grown the FNP group from a single shop in Delhi in 1994 (he has 50 flower stores all over India now) to a Rs 40 crore (Rs 400 million) business, Gutgutia claims his company will post a turnover of Rs 70 crore (Rs 700 million) within the next three years.

While the flower business contributes half of FNP's revenues, Lamour, its wedding management division, posts a contribution of Rs 6 crore (Rs 60 million) annually. This season, with marriages worth Rs 20 lakh (Rs 2 million) already in his kitty, "Lamour," he says confidently, "will touch a double digit revenue figure by next year".

Gutgutia's plans for the future are clear. The Valaya.FNP partnership will focus on lifestyle flowers like salix willow, protea, pink helegoina and oriental lilliums arranged by a trained designer.

The florist-turned-wedding planner says, "Our target will be the premium customers who don't mind spending Rs 20,000 on flowers per month." Gutgutia adds, "I'm looking at 1,000 such high-end customers by next year."

Inspired by Giorgio Armani's initiative in floral arrangements -- Fiori -- Valaya.FNP has already clocked close to Rs 1 crore (Rs 10 million) since its launch last month.

Spurred by the success, the group is now planning to franchise its business to Dubai by next year, and also open shops in Mumbai, Bangalore and other metros.

The buck doesn't stop here for FNP that is also planning to launch an academy where trained faculty from around the world will provide professional guidance on flower management to keen aspirants.

Having invested Rs 50 lakh (Rs 5 million) in the venture that kicks off early next year, "the academy," Gutgutia says, "will cater to those who are passionate about flowers and aspire to follow it up as a profession".

Is Gutgutia spreading himself too thin with too many business ventures too soon? "We have covered all costs through our business activities," he says confidently of his investments in the new ventures. "I don't believe in borrowing money for business as the interest kills you; neither do I believe in partnerships, they never work out."

But aren't his new ventures in partnerships with other people? "These individuals are only lending their names to the brand," he says. "Valaya, for instance, will get five per cent of the total sales that we clock with the Valaya.FNP venture."

Last month, the group invested Rs 30 lakh (Rs 3 million) and launched its new home accessories store, Desir.FNP, at 10 M G Road in New Delhi. "The store," Gutgutia says, "will be pitched against stand-alone home stores like Coverline and Good Things."

The 3,000 sq ft store houses international products, nearly 80 per cent of which is from Europe, Indonesia, China, Malaysia, and Thailand. "The store is aimed at the upper-middle class," says Gutgutia; "we have consciously tried to keep the prices affordable."

With so much on the anvil already, the group seems hungry for more. By December 2005, the company will get into the business of fast-food retailing with its Chatak Chaat outlets.

With an investment of Rs 50 lakh (Rs 5 million) to begin operations at its three outlets in New Delhi, the company hopes to increase the number to 100 outlets of Chatak Chaat in different metros. "Chaat is the most happening thing in the food business. It's lucrative," he insists.

With the company in rapid expansion mode, FNP is raring to go ahead with its plans at breakneck speed. Only time will tell whether FNP's bouquet remains fresh in all its expansion plans or begins to wilt under pressure.


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