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Thursday, Apr 07, 2005

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Crossword on expansion spree

Anna Peter

A Crosswords outlet at Bangalore.

Mumbai , April 6

CROSSWORD, the bookstore chain, is on an expansion spree and is opening five stores this month — three in Mumbai and a store each in New Delhi and Pune.

According to Mr R. Sriram, Enterprise Facilitator, CEO and Managing Director, Crossword, the company's business grew over 85 per cent for the year ended March 31, 2005 over the previous year. It is eyeing a 100 per cent growth this fiscal and aims to do Rs 117-crore business during the year.

Part of the reason for the growth, Mr Sriram said, was that "people are inherently interested in knowledge, information and entertainment and books have all these. We have created the right environment and given them a wide selection of books."

The company has in the past relied on various initiatives, such as providing a café and toilets, in its bookstores. It has also included a wide range of products in its bookstore and some innovative customer practices such as allowing visitors to read books they like within the premises in comfortable chairs. Children's books account for 25 per cent of the bookstore's sales.

Mr Sriram added that the three stores in Mumbai — at Juhu, Turner Road and Shivaji Park — would each be a large, medium and small format store. The company has a mix of three formats — large (between 15,000 and 20,000 sq ft), medium (5,000 sq ft) and small (1,000 sq ft).

In May, four more stores will come up in Delhi, Ahmedabad, Pune and Hyderabad. The leases, Mr Sriram said, had been signed. The company hopes to set up an additional 10-12 stores in 2006, which will go up to 20 by 2007. Six Crosswords were set up last year.

The company had stepped up expansion plans last year. Expansion was happening especially fast in the A1, B1 and B2 category towns. Most of the stores are owned by Crossword while some are franchisees. The investment for large-sized store is around Rs 2.5 crore, medium-sized Rs 1.5 crore and for a small store is Rs 25 lakh.

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