Two leading hardware manufacturers -- HCL Infosystems and Zenith Computers -- are planning a massive retail foray.
While HCL Infosystems will invest at least Rs 100 crore (Rs 1 billion) to open 200 digital lifestyle stores in the country, Zenith is aiming to open 30 lifestyle stores across the country with an investment of Rs 30 crore (Rs 300 million).
The current market size of the digital lifestyle products is estimated around Rs 2,500 crore (Rs 25 billion) and is expected to go up to Rs 10,000-12,000 crore (Rs 100 billion to Rs 120 billion) by 2010.
HCL's retail outlets will have various digital products, not all manufactured by HCL, such as personal computers, handycams, webcams and laptops on display.
The HCL Lifestyle store would also showcase iPoDs and Nokia colour mobile phones (since it is the brand promoter of Nokia). Zenith, on the other hand, will sell all high-end digital equipment including personal computers and LCD TVs.
In fact, the first Zenith Computers showroom, branded Vu (pronounced 'view'), was recently opened in Mumbai. It is a luxury technology brand which researches, develops and manufactures high-end computers, LCD displays and digital homes.
"Products ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 100,000 and above would be displayed at the stores. We are also looking at introducing the equated monthly installment scheme too," says Raj Saraf, MD of Zenith Computers. "Depending on the success of the stores, we may also open multiple stores in a city", he adds.
HCL too will introduce the EMI scheme. HCL Infosystems Chairman and CEO, Ajai Chowdhry, says, "Initially, we will open four company-owned lifestyle stores in the metros. While the others will be franchisee based. The company is considering allowing sale of its products through low EMIs."
Chowdhary adds the company's foray into direct retail was aimed at boosting the sale of its digital equipment by targeting the 550 million population under 25 years in the country.
Chowdhry says his company is planning to increase the manufacture of personal computers from the six lakh per annum figure to around 10 lakh before the end of the current financial year.
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