Realme in talks with LFRs like Reliance Retail, Croma to grow offline handset business

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It is also preparing to set up its own exclusive stores through foreign direct investment in single-brand retail under the automatic route.

NEW DELHI: Chinese handset maker Realme is aggressively expanding its offline presence in the country, and is in the process of signing fresh agreements with leading Large format retail chains like Reliance Retail and Croma, having brought Sangeetha Mobiles on board recently.

It is also preparing to set up its own exclusive stores through foreign direct investment in single-brand retail under the automatic route.

“We are expanding our offline presence and have started a business with LFRs…our target is 20000 stores…we have plans for our own exclusive stores as well.. we are preparing a blueprint for the same,” Madhav Sheth, India chief executive at Realme, told ET.

Realme has lately hired former Xiaomi India’s sales head for brick-and-mortar trade, Deepak Nakra.

Sheth said that Nakra will help Realme reach its target to open 20,000 stores across the country. “He has a solid experience in the field,” he added.

Despite its focus on the offline channel, Sheth said that Realme is targeting 70% sales contribution from the online channel, while rest coming from offline stores. “Offline is more about reach and touch and feel for consumer.”

Realme on Monday launched its flagship smartphone, Realme X, to enter sub-Rs 20,000 price category and to tap consumers that are looking for an upgrade.

“Our intention is to establish ourselves in this segment with premium offering. A lot of people are now looking for premium feature and speed,” Sheth said.

Counterpoint’s Anshika Jain said that Realme has been doing well in the online space through its exclusive partnership with Flipkart. “They are following the trend by tapping a new segment. They are now second largest brand for Flipkart. This new model will do well and will give strong competition to its rivals.”.

Realme, which started operations last May, is owned by China’s BBK Group that also owns Oppo, Vivo and OnePlus. 

Realme had 13% online market share in January-May period against Xiaomi’s 46% share, as per Counterpoint data. Realme’s overall share stood at 7%, while Xiaomi remained the leader with 30% share during the same period.

Jain said that the company’s offline expansion is targeted towards East and Western parts of the country since 90% of its online sales comes from North India. “There were second largest player in the online space in January-May period,” Jain said.

The company is also getting serious about its accessory business, and is launching a slew of products to support its handsets. “We are launching 7-8 accessories like chargers, cables, cover cases, and plan to bring more accessories in coming months,” Sheth said, adding that the accessory business will continue to grow.

Sheth said that Realme’s local research and development (R&D) center has already started playing a significant role in customise products for the local market. It has also started work on 5G smartphones.

“5G phone is still currently under process. We will launch when the market is ready… we want to offer premium features with our 5G phone but at affordable rates…we want to massify the technology,” Sheth added.

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