Emax to set up dedicated service centres

CEO Bhatnagar is looking to expand fast. (CHANDRA BALAN)

Electronic retailer Emax is to set up its own service centres, Chief Executive Neelesh Bhatnagar has revealed.

This new division will employ more than 20 people and will be responsible for installation, repairs and maintenance.

"This move will strengthen the service facilities we offer our customers and give them more than just shelf-level shopping," said Bhatnagar. "Of course the new division will generate extra revenue for Emax."

Landmark Group launched Emax after deciding to diversify into the electronic retail business in 2005. The chain revolutionised the industry with a unique model that combined the best brands, product diversity, customer-friendly service and value for money through large format stores.

These innovations in an otherwise conventional sector enabled Emax to beat its target of recovering its investment and moving into the black within three years.

"We were not the first to enter the electronic retail business but we entered with a big bang, with a big concept and with bigger ambitions to provide the best value for consumers – and it worked," added Bhatnagar.

Emax currently has nine stores – three in the UAE, two in Saudi Arabia, two in Bahrain and one each in Qatar and Oman.

The company is planning to expand in the GCC and India and by the end of the year expects to have 40 stores with a total retail space of more than two million square feet. "The opening of the flagship Big Box outlet in Sharjah – a diverse electronics market in the heart of the emirate – in 2006 was the turning point. Its location on a main road is ideal as it is accessible to shoppers from other emirates.

"The three-level store has the widest range of electronics, IT products, mobile phones, cameras, appliances, kitchenware, watches, gaming, lighting, fitness equipment, outdoor electronic, toys, health and baby care devices, audio and video equipment and software – all under one roof." The service centre will be based in Sharjah. A manager and technicians have already been hired and the company hopes to get the greenlight to begin operations before the peak summer shopping season begins.

Emax extends the "big" approach beyond the size of its stores into its branding and mass communication activities. It runs full-page ads and wraparounds in local newspapers and advertises on huge billboards in and around the Sharjah store.

"We regularly place price-buster ads in the local media so our customers know we offer the best value," said Bhatnagar.

These special bulletins are produced on a regular basis and last month Emax ran an eight-page broadsheet pullout in a local newspaper.

"The magnitude of the product range has to be conveyed in our branding," said Bhatnagar, who also spends heavily on radio advertising.

Emax sells 17 different product categories, more than 300 brands and 100,000 products.

The growth of Emax is reflected in its annual revenues, which reached more than Dh200 million in the year 2006-2007. The projected figure for the current fiscal year is Dh500m.

Revenues are expected to grow at a steady pace with projected figures for 2008-2009 of Dh800m. And Bhatnagar believes the billion-dirham mark will be passed in 2009-2010 with expected revenues of around Dh1.4bn.


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The numbers

Dh200m: Was Emax's annual revenue in 2006-2007

Dh500m: Is the projected revenue figures for this year

Dh800m: Is the projected revenue for 2008-2009

100,000: Is the number of products Emax sells