SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE: D-MART
The adage ‘Slow and Steady Wins the Race’ is used so colloquially that the conversant has forgotten its very meaning.
In today’s world, a world where anything quick (fast), is embraced and cheered, this adage seems to hold a very superficial position in the human narrative.
On one hand, it is the adage bestowed upon anyone seeking a quick buck. While on the other, it is a natural tendency to seek instant gratification.
Today’s rapidly changing world is like a wave. The transient nature of a wave (trough – crest – trough), draws a clear parallelism to the stock markets (disappointment – euphoria – disappointment). Several humans have tried and tested the choppy waters of the stock market. Most failed, few succeeded. For every large ‘successful’ company out there, there are thousands which drowned (failed). The one common trait found in these ‘successful’ companies is that they are masters at riding this transient wave. The largest companies today, were the small companies of yesterday.
I thought of all this when I read up on one of India’s largest growing retailers. A retailer who has not taken the markets by storm, by rapid expansion, or by monstrous growth. But instead a retailer that has been born from this adage. A retailer which had just 1 store in 2000. 10 in 2008. It is none other than, Radhakishan Damani’s Avenue Supermarts Ltd, known to the common consumer, simply as D-Mart.
You can easily spot a D-Mart store by its Big Green Colored logo against the backdrop of a crème colored exterior paint. The look is like any other retailer, except for the throngs of consumers that gather to shop at their ‘favorite’ retailer.
A D-Mart store is not just a store, it is a landmark in cities. I found it mind-boggling – how and when did D-Mart hold dear to the otherwise highly picky and fickle consumers? Well, the answer lies in a simple quote from Aesop’s Fables, ‘Slow and Steady Wins the Race’.
Mr Damani is considered as one of India’s finest value investors. The most important element to value investing is ‘patience’.
It is the patience of a value investor that is rewarded over the longer period. I believe that this ‘patience’ is what set D-Mart up for success. It took D-Mart 8 long years to grow from a single store to 10. Fast forward to 2019, D-Mart now operates 176 stores across 11 states and 1 Union Territory.
The success of D-Mart is attributed to the well worked business model, a model that has been ‘patiently’ tried and tested across several demographics to validate its profitability, replicability, and scalability.
The management at D-Mart purchase properties which are then developed into D-Mart stores (sometimes existing buildings are also refurbished into D-Mart stores), this results in near zero rental dues, thereby boosting profitability to a large extent.
It has enabled D-Mart to become one of the lowest price retailers.
A prudent product mix:
- Foods (51.25% revenue contribution) *
- Non-Food FMCG (~20.46% revenue contribution) *
- General Merchandise (~28.29% revenue contribution) *
has ensured that D-Mart is able to cater to the needs of all consumers.
Highly efficient Supply Chain Management coupled with an Inventory Management System that runs like clockwork has made D-Mart one of the most reliable and admirably adapted retailers in a world where consumer tastes and sentiments change rapidly.
Their adaptability once again came into focus during the recent Covid-19 lockdown. Anticipating a severe drop in footfalls at their stores and following the closure of some stores due to regulations, they moved with lightning speed to implement a home delivery system thereby bringing supplies to the customers. However, it is expected for sales to decline under such strict lockdown rules. Nevertheless D-Mart should come out of it even stronger and adaptable than ever before!
D-Mart has slowly but steadily become the quintessential retailer of India. The gold standard. Although, it still has multiple geographies (states and Union Territories) to unlock, I would not for once doubt their success!
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