The Evolution of a Spirited Family Business

Anithya Balachandran | November 1, 2022 | Wealth

Family driven businesses have been embedded in Indian culture for decades now. The numerous boards of brands that read “…and sons” in metropolitan cities and small scale towns alike show how popular a choice it is to go into business with your family. In India, family businesses range from small stores to large conglomerates with equally varied business interests. As their growth has skyrocketed, many family businesses have begun to expand and evolve outside their comfort zone.

One such business family to do so is the V.K group. The group was established in 1990 as a family-based business. It currently operates over 20 liquor stores across Maharashtra. Over the past decade the V.K Group has significantly increased its customer base with the increasing availability of international brands throughout their retail chain. This has been a vital factor in amplifying its growth in the industry.

However, the third generation of the family business had something else in mind. They wished to continue to be in the liquor industry, but realised that the need of the hour was the integration of technology and the conception of a brand persona.

This thought process birthed The Liquor Store (TLS) – a futuristic and new-age liquor boutique conceptualised by third-generation owners of the V.K Group – Dinesh, Jayesh and Pritesh Kathuria.

A digital forward experiential gallery of a vast collection of luxe spirits with a tasting room in Navi Mumbai, TLS boasts of a technologically advanced setup that features AR technology. This allows visitors to scan a bottle and receive detailed information pertaining to the liquor on a screen using a digitally QR coded table top.

Founders of The Liquor Store includes the Kathuria brothers. 

The general weariness and glum brought on by the pandemic has led to a desire for novel experiences in consumers. Phenomena such as revenge travel isn’t the only evidence of this. The opening of establishments such as TLS indicate the need for novelty is widespread.

Capitalising on this gap in the liquor industry the Kathuria brothers speak of how they came up with the concept of the store. “During the course of our education in the UK, we had the great fortune to experience how the liquor market operates internationally. This led us to brainstorming the concept of an experience-driven liquor store. We realised that this is something that is sorely lacking currently in the Indian market and thus decided to go ahead and bring this novel experience to the Indian clientele. Having 30 years of experience in the liquor industry provides us with a unique insight and background, which we have utilised in carrying this concept from the stage of inception to conception,” shares Jayesh.

Premium whiskies at The Liquor Store. 

However, as businesses adopt a more innovative approach the challenges that stem from them have become progressively gruelling. From tackling new found logistical problems to reviving in store customer footfall, starting a new business in the post-pandemic era is no small feat. “Any new endeavour comes with a set of challenges and that is when you realise the journey is as important as the final goal. It has been a humbling and learning experience for all of us involved in bringing TLS to life.The government has its rules and regulations, and we are all about co-operating and toeing the line when it comes to legalities. However, it does slow things down as we wait for new products to be cleared so that we can make them available for our customers” he says.

The numerous lockdowns allowed people to experience a world devoid of liquor stores. An experience that left many grateful for their raggedy neighbourhood alcohol shop. Somewhere, it created a new demand in the market for places that offered an experience whilst purchasing liquor. The Kathuria brothers took notice of this gap and conceptualised TLS to fill the void in the experiential retail sector. “In my opinion, the Indian market is not very experience-driven, but people are now more familiar and fond of the alcohol they are consuming, how one should drink it and when is it the ideal time to consume it. Additionally, customers are now more willing to accept a wide variety of beverages and are open to diverse modifications. People have a more progressive approach and no longer discriminate towards those who consume alcohol as they did in previous decades,” Jayesh tells me.

Consumer habits are constantly evolving and adapting as a result of certain phases and trends. The beverage industry in particular has witnessed a drastic shift in how people approach and purchase alcohol. It would be only fair to say that the pandemic has heightened the value of the product. At the same time, it’s interesting to see long-standing family enterprises inculcate news ways to take their usual businesses to the next level.

Words by Anithya Balachandaran.
Images via The Liquor Store and Unsplash.

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