Flowers Worth Sixty Crores


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Flowers Worth Sixty Crores

  1. 1. On SightFlowers Worth Sixty Crores A couple of years ago, nobody would have ever imagined that flowers could be sold through the retail channel in India, that too with high-tech assistance. While everyone else thought this was a potty idea, Vikaas Gutgutia grew from one retail flower shop to a diversified business worth sixty crores, with just a little help from a blossoming website!1 8,000 orders this season, of which Whether it is your parent’s anniversary, we were spellbound by the flower-filled more than 1200 were from the your girlfriend’s birthday or any other ambience. Soon we were escorted to Web! That’s the kind of traffic occasion to celebrate, flowers are Vikaas’ chamber. Born and brought upFerns N Petals experienced this indispensable. Breaking the myth that in Vidyasagar, a small town on theValentine. The most sought after retail retail flower shops don’t exist, Vikaas Bihar-West Bengal border, Vikaas’florist in India now, FNP has grown Gutgutia started Ferns ‘N’ Petals in family was into the business of flowersfrom strength to strength over the years. 1994, which was the beginning of the for the last two generations. They wereIt is about to introduce m-commerce, country’s largest retail flower chain. supplying flowers to retailers in collaboration with Hutch. So within It was a warm Saturday morning Later, when the Gutgutia’s moved toa month from now you can use your when we set out to meet Vikaas, Kolkata, they continued their flowermobile to order and deliver flowers. Managing Director, Ferns N Petals. The business. However, it was not easy as Have you ever heard a daisy head office of Ferns N Petals is in a catering for flowers from afar increasedspeak…An orchid chatter? There may farmhouse located far away from the the prices and quality needed to benot be such a thing as a talking flower, busy city. As we patiently waited at the compromised as well. However, in spitebut they do communicate your feelings. nicely kept reception to meet Vikaas, of all the odds they did not give up and BenefIT / March 2006 / 15
  2. 2. On Sight Achievements • FNP has been awarded a trophy by the Delhi Florist Association for bringing exotic flowers to New Delhi. • FNP has bagged the Franchise Award 2003. • Franchising World Magazine awarded FNP with a Certificate of Excellence for the best retail florist and the Recognition of Excellence Award for the best customer services. • Vikaas Gutgutia was nominated for the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the year in 2005. in the late 80s decided to set up their own retail outlet in Kolkata named, the Plants and Flowers Boutique. After Vikaas completed his graduation he moved to New Delhi in 1994 to start afresh. He began with a small shop in the GK-I market. Today, a decade later he has a workforce of over two hundred people working with him. Vikaas takes us down memory lane, to his initial years of struggle. ‘Probably the timing was right and there was a vacuum in the industry for a retail flower shop then,’ Vikaas suggests. Coming from a family that had traded in flowers for two generations now, Vikaas had his basics right. However, he had to face his share of struggles too. Procurement of flowers, streamlining the supply chain management cycle, hiring people with the know-how of this business and maintaining the quality of the products were a few of the many roadblocks. In spite of numerous problems, he stood bravely by his commitments, suffered losses as well but continued to work with a singular vision towards success. Special Valentine Arrangement From giving incentives to managers to hiring friends, he did all that he could to make business better. He married Meeta in 1995 and while she took care of the shop, Vikaas began focussing more on marketing and business development. The misconception that a flower shop is a roadside affair was demolished. Slowly but gradually, people started accepting the concept of a flower boutique and Ferns N Petals became a more familiar brand. A few years later, in 1999, Vikaas realised that with business growing at a faster pace it was getting difficult to handle operations. He then took a bold step to adopt the franchising model and within the next three years, the number of outlets grew to thirty-three, all over the country. With a royalty of six per cent on the sales, anybody with a shop size of 400-500 sq.ft. could opt to open up a franchisee outlet. Another deciding factor is the location of the shop. Today there are fifty flower outlets of Ferns N Petals across twenty major cities in India. Six of these outlets are owned by the company and the rest are franchised. Vikaas also set up the company website ( in 1999. Three years later, in 2002, the company ventured into e-commerce. Now customers could buy flowers with the click of a mouse. Over a period of time, he ventured into wholesaling of flowers through a division called FNP Marketing. He also launched Special Valentine Arrangement FNP Weddings which primarily was meant for designing and16 / March 2006 / BenefIT
  3. 3. On Sight Brands Under FNP • Ferns N Petals (Retail & franchising) • Ferns N Petals (E-commerce) • FNP Weddings (Wedding décor) • L’amour FNP (Wedding management) • FNP Marketing • FNP Rentals • Valaya FNP (top end floral boutique) • Desir FNP (interior decoration) managing weddings. Gradually he diversified into other divisions like L’amour FNP (wedding management), FNP Marketing and FNP Rentals as well. Vikaas accepts that apart from the website of the company, which is used to serve on-line customers, he has not used IT in a large scale to build upon the business. FNP uses the TallyBasant Lok outlet 7.2 accounting package to manage their finances. And despite a workforce of over 200 people, he has not been using a HR management software. He believes in being personally networked with his employees. In his view, being emotionally bonded with his employees is necessary to make FNP a better place to work in. He spoke to us about his plans to shift the current location of the office to another place in about three months time. “We would become more techno-savvy when the business grows further.” Vikaas adds. With FNP venturing into new markets and hiring more people, he was positive about setting up a HR management software. All the technology that goes into the handling and performance of the Web engine of FNP is managed by Rajiv Bose, General Manager, e-commerce, FNP. Rajiv has a master’s degree in management from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies and over 15 years of experience in the IT industry. In our brief conversation with him, we discovered that the website’s ( serverAurobindo market outlet management is outsourced to Olive in the US. The server runs on the ASP platform and Windows 2003 Server. It is robust enough to handle more than a thousand online orders in an hour. They have also tied up with many B2B and B2C websites like,, and, to deliver flowers. They have various payment modes—through credit card, debit card, smart cards and also an offline payment option at ICICI. When a customer orders through the Web, the software (which is built in-house) captures the order and then each order in manually allocated to the nearest outlet. If a city has one outlet, then the order is sent automatically to that place. However, if there are more than one outlets, the allocation of the order to the nearest outlet is done manually. They have a tracking number assigned to each order placed so that customer’s can check the delivery status on the Web. Rajiv also talked to us about the introduction of m-commerce to deliver flowers. Very soon they are getting into a collaboration with Hutch to provide this service. In the near future, Vikaas is planning to take the FNPInner view of an outlet brand to Dubai, Singapore and London. “The kind of expertise BenefIT / March 2006 / 17
  4. 4. On Sight we have in terms of flower management, in the designing and Our recommendations to FNP about technology arrangement of flowers, customer • To adopt an HR Management software to handle the 200 strong, and ever- service and about a growing business growing team. model, I am sure we will be equally • Flowers are for managing relationships. CRM software manages customers for successful abroad”, Vikaas adds. In increased business. addition to this, they are also planning • To adopt RFID to track logistics and deliveries when business grows. to launch a fast food chain (six to begin with) under the brand name, Chatak Hence, FNP is planning to introduce long, relating to business. He normally Chat. “This will bring the traditional m-commerce (mobile commerce) for finishes his day at 9 pm at night, when chaat to air-conditioned food joints.”, delivering flowers all over the country. he leaves for his residence. “The flower Vikaas adds. When asked about his personal taste business is seasonal”, Vikaas replies The FNP Group is creating a couture of flowers, he says that his favourite when we wondered about no time being lifestyle brand called L’amour to lead flower is the Anthurium (a part of the left for recreation. He has a lot of work the group’s foray into the high end décor of his cabin). We also spotted the in festive or seasonal months. On the wedding management business, beauty lucky bamboo in another end of his other hand, off-season he unwinds with and health spas, and fashion labels, office. He thinks that there are no his family on vacations. He visits health including accessories. It will target the specific flowers for a CEO. It all depends clubs and practices yoga as well. Vikaas rich and famous with an exclusive, and on personal taste and the interiors. is also an ardent cricket lover. luxurious collection. In September Vikaas’ normal day begins at 9 am On a parting note, Vikaas 2005, FNP launched its new home when he reaches his office. He then goes summarises that over the years, enough accessories store, Desir.FNP in New on to meet his employees in various hard work has gone into laying a strong Delhi. Vikaas envisions that the number departments. He also charts out plans business foundation. Setting up the first of people having access to a mobile to be implemented on a regular basis. thirty shops was very difficult. However, phone outnumbers the number of At around 10.30 am, he arrives in his now FNP is poised at the stage wherein people with access to the Internet. cabin where he meets people all day they can open up a shop every week, across the country. Talking about his ambitions about the FNP weddings division, Vikaas revealed that in about five years time, every woman in India would insist on her wedding décor being handled by FNP. Which is when we made our suggestion to Vikaas to deploy Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to handle the personalized needs of such a large and diversified pool of customers. He also plans to open a training institution in the near future, to impart education in the floral sector and groom people for this segment. FNP may go public in the first quarter of 2007, may consider venture capital funding or even private placement. The group would also focus on the fast food segment with Chatak Chat, which is about to come up very soon and look forward to the FNP brand moving to foreign markets as well. Jim Collins, the author of ‘Good to Great’ and ‘Built to Last’ identifies the humble CEO as a common denominator in truly visionary companies and Vikaas is undoubtedly one of them. ! Vikaas and Meeta Gulgatia —Ashutosh Pradhan, BenefIT Bureau18 / March 2006 / BenefIT