The Case Of The White Strawberries: How Shashwat Goenka Wants India To Experience Luxury Retail Recently, Nature's Basket, which is part of the RP- Sanjiv Goenka group, unveiled its first concept store at Phoenix Palladium, Mumbai.

By Kabir Singh Bhandari

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Shashwat Goenka, Chairman, Spencers Retail Limited

Recently, Nature's Basket, which is part of the RP- Sanjiv Goenka group, unveiled its first concept store at Phoenix Palladium, Mumbai. The Natures Basket Artisan Pantry features dedicated wine cellars, artisanal cheese rooms, farmer's markets, live cooking gourmet studios and chocolate studios, with an aim to redefine the way people approach their culinary journey with a crafted experience.

Shashwat Goenka, Chairman, Spencers Retail Limited told us that his vision for the store was to create a haven for food lovers, where they can explore, taste, and learn about the finest ingredients from around the globe, and this idea had been on his mind ever since they acquired Natures Basket. However, the task then had been to get the business profitable because it had been in losses for a long time. Then came Covid, and they had to put their plans on hold, as during that time consumers were moving online, not coming physically to the stores. With the trend now shifting back, now was a good time for them to launch.

One of the exotic fruits available to consumers would be white strawberries from Japan, a product majority of us didn't even know existed. Other items would include fresh truffles, frozen pears and 400 varieties of cheese. Customers will be able to attend workshops, cooking classes, and tastings to enhance their culinary skills, while they browse the shelves that are adorned with a curated selection of premium groceries, exotic fruits, farm-fresh vegetables, artisanal cheeses, and gourmet products. Beyond the shelves, Natures Basket embodies a philosophy that embraces sustainability and responsible sourcing, with the brand committed to supporting local farmers and producers. In totality, Natures Basket Limited have 32 stores operating across major cities in Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, NCR and Kolkata with a trading area of 98k sq.ft.

But exotic delicacies aside, we were curious to know if he had to unlearn some of the lessons he learnt at his alma mater Wharton School when dealing in the Indian market. "I think what college gave me was a great understanding of a lot of concepts and some level of practicality too. So what it helped me with was that in the first week of work, I wasn't struggling. I knew a lot of things in terms of the concepts and had to figure out how to adapt it to the Indian context and to my specific business and industry," Shaswat explained to us while we stood in the midst of the newly opened store.

However, before we let him go, it was imperative to ask the vice chairman of the 7-billion-dollar RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group, who has also been the youngest ever President of Indian Chamber of Commerce, the quintessential question as he is a Kolkata boy. Is the city with its lip smacking street food delicacies such as jhal muri and resident to heritage restaurants such as Kwality on the iconic Park Street the best for food lovers in the country? "I'm a big foodie, I love street food and explore it from all parts of India. Every time I'm travelling, the first thing is not to go to a fancy restaurant, but to figure where the good street food is. Kolkata of course, has some of the best street food and I don't think anyone would deny that, whether it's the puchka, the samosa or others!"

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Kabir Singh Bhandari

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