This CEO Spearheads India's Biggest Duty-free Luxury and Fashion Businesses What is most interesting about the duty-free retail business model is that it is not threatened by the e-commerce disruption

By Vanita D'souza

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Manishi Sanwal

Since Manishi Sanwal took charge of Flemingo in 2012, it has grown more than two-and-a-half times. In fact, the company's space at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (Mumbai International Airport) during the same period has grown from 22,000 sq ft to 65,000 sq ft with employee strength of more than 850.

"The business required us to develop buying relationships with big international brands like Omega, Mont Blanc, Michael Kors, Tumi and many others. We needed to understand the industry in a relatively small span," he says while adding that, "We always buy directly from the brands to ensure the customers get the price advantage. Moreover, the products needed to be moved from multiple locations around the world and at the same time, maintain duty-free status."

For this, they created teams and built brand relationships efficiently and professionally. "By the end of the year, we were profitably running the biggest duty-free luxury and fashion businesses in India," he adds.

Furthermore, what is most interesting about the duty-free retail business model is that it is not threatened by the e-commerce disruption. Most of the products that they sell are not available on the digital platforms and if at all those are available – the e-commerce companies are not in a position to beat their price.

Elaborating on his management style, Sanwal explains, "I tend to lead from the front by taking intelligent and well-measured risks. We want to be a team of innovative professionals with an entrepreneurial approach."

It is now looking to raise about INR 2,500 crore from the capital markets, on the other hand, its Indian sub-continent business, east European business, and the cruise line are all growing in double digits.

(This article was first published in the August 2018 issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)

Vanita D'souza

Former Senior Correspondent, Entrepreneur India

I am a Mumbai-based journalist and have worked with media companies like The Dollar Business Magazine, Business Standard, etc.While on the other side, I am an avid reader who is a travel freak and has accepted foodism as my religion.

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