Forbes India 30 Under 30 2023

Revolutionising the Indian Gifting Industry

Mr. Vikaas Gutgutia, MD & Founder, Ferns N Petals talks about the journey from a corner store florist small business into a global gifting chain

BRAND CONNECT
Published: Nov 20, 2020 08:10:25 PM IST
Updated: Nov 24, 2020 04:43:13 PM IST

Revolutionising the Indian Gifting Industry
1.  Growing your business from a single to multi-store chain is every entrepreneur’s dream. Had this always been your plan from the beginning and how did this operation come about?

I have always believed that successful execution of an idea is what separates the dreamers from the entrepreneurs and that is how the business has grown. I established the floral business with an objective to provide world-class facility and the highest quality to customers along with the widest variety of domestic & exotic flowers.

It all started 25 years back, while I was studying in Kolkata, and used to help my uncle in his flower business, when I developed interest and trading skills in being a florist. In 1994, I opened the first store of Ferns N Petals in the prime locality of Delhi. The air-conditioned ambience and beautiful varieties of flowers captivated the attention of the customers. After getting an excellent response, I expanded into other regions of Delhi and thus, the journey of delivering happiness continued. Today, we lead the floral, gifting and cakes industry, with 400 outlets in more than 120 cities pan-India and a presence across the world. We have emerged as a reputed brand with 12 verticals under the FNP umbrella. Today, apart from India (https://www.fnp.com/), we are also present in Dubai (https://www.fnp.ae/) and Singapore (https://www.fnp.sg/), and deliver in 170 countries.

2.  With flowers having a short shelf life compared to other gifting products, kudos to establishing a presence across the length and breadth of India. How did you go about this mammoth task and what challenges fazed you in the beginning?

The biggest challenge was the logistics involved in delivering fresh flowers in hot conditions. Then, of course, there were a lot of technology issues, which resolved gradually. Since there is no institute for training florists or giving diplomas in flower decoration, we also faced the challenge of making the business sustainable to smaller entrepreneurs who are our company’s franchisees.

3.  From your beginnings as a corner store florist shop in Delhi to 2-hour delivery in locations across India, we would love to hear more about the many milestones you achieved to reach your path to India’s largest online gift delivery company.

We command one-third of the organised flower market in India, and we are the largest chain of wedding venues in Delhi NCR. We continuously focus on product and category innovation, optimisation in deliveries, precision marketing, expansion into tier II and tier III cities and expansion in different geographies (UAE & GCC).

Our key milestones:

1994: First retail outlet opened in New Delhi

1996: First wedding décor assignment

2002: Launched www.fnp.com

2003: Opened first wedding venue ‘The Kundan’

2013: Launched ‘The Flagship Store’

2014: Launched Wedding Design Hub

2015: Went global through www.fnp.ae

2016:  Udman (first hotel of the brand)

2016: Crossed 1 million customer mark at www.fnp.com

2017: Started FNP Cakes ‘N’ More

2018: Launched ‘FNP Media’, a content & production house

2018: Opened 300th Retail Outlet

2019: Entered FMCG business by launching FNP Water

2020: Launched ‘Last Journey’ personalised funeral services

4.  How was your business impacted in lockdown?  

As an immediate effect of lockdown, our daily order volume dropped by 80%, primarily because of high dependency on logistics and physical delivery of goods. We were quick to realise the need for 100% contact-less gifting, and launched digital gifting services in the backdrop of the nationwide lockdown, and gradually after the launch, the order volume climbed back to 60%.

5.  Your service is now available to customers in India wanting to gift their loved ones abroad. This must have surely been a massive organisational task to undertake in the next process of your business plan. Please tell us more about your foresight into taking this business to foreign shores.

Yes, indeed it’s been a massive organisational task that we are planning to undertake in the next process of business plan. We have launched our services, as well as store operations in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. FNP records double-digit growth in sales and revenue in the UAE, with the aim of expanding to KSA during the next quarter. With existing delivery service across Dubai and Abu Dhabi, we have created a niche in the UAE’s online market. As a part of our key expansion plan, we have opened a new retail store in Sharjah. The expansion in Sharjah will help customers choose from the wide range of gifting options and avail the satisfaction of taking them home right away. The gifting industry is in a unique position at the moment with the ongoing trend of digitalisation and a growing number of active online users leading to a surge in demand — and FNP believes it has the potential to flourish even further. Since establishing FNP’s first branch in Dubai, UAE, the brand has seen tremendous revenue increase, and we are confident about the incredible opportunities the region has to offer. We are now aiming to enter a new international market every three months.

6.  You are successfully running a niche online service even after major global marketplaces entered India, who offer multiple products under one online location. How have you set yourself apart from your competitors? 

With a turnover of INR 500 crores, we command one-third of the organised flower market in India, and we are also the largest chain of wedding venues in Delhi NCR. We have set ourselves apart from our competitors by continuously focussing on product and category innovation, optimisation in deliveries, precision marketing, expansion into tier – II and tier III cities and expansion in different geographies (UAE & GCC).

7.  Your journey in the florist and gifting market has been a very unconventional one, and that has brought you a lot of success compared to your peers. Do you have further aces up your sleeve?

We are constantly expanding into other sectors. Recently, we launched Last Journey, to provide full-fledged, personalised funeral services, and FNP Media, a content company and production house that will work to produce quality content for digital platforms.

  • The brand is in the process of unveiling a couple of 5-star hotels in NCR location.
  • We are planning to launch IPO very soon.
  • We have already expanded FNP and launched its service as well as store operations in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.
  • We are now planning to enter a new international market every three months.
8.  Apart from using technology for smooth order transition and supply chain management, how have you relied on tech to revolutionise the gifting industry?

Technology has always been the backbone of the Ferns N Petals business. Being a crossover entity, we instinctively use technology as the first resort to every problem we face. This pandemic has called for more of it. The core of our business is “Delivering HumanEmotion”. Before this pandemic, 98% of our business involved doorstep delivery of gifts or flowers, which was rendered impotent due to the nationwide lockdown. To deal with this slowdown in business and depleting market sentiments, we turned this business disruption into an opportunity by developing Digital Gifting, which is absolutely contactless and delivered directly on the recipient’s mobile phone or email. As we are moving towards a data-driven approach and embracing the power of data and technology, we aim to invest up to INR 30 crores in technology in the next two years to become the Uber of gifting services.

Disclaimer: The views, suggestions and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Forbes India journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.

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