Ex-Zigwheels business head joins hybrid furniture retailer Housefull as joint CEO

Akshay Chaturvedi, a former business head at auto portal Zigwheels.com, has joined hybrid furniture retailer Housefull International Ltd as co-founder and joint CEO.

Chaturvedi will lead the Mumbai-based company's e-commerce business. "We plan a complete overhaul of the website in addition to creating a fresh brand identity, building the back-end operation and increasing the stock keeping units on the site," he told Techcircle.in.

Suvendu Rath is the company's other CEO.

Zigwheels.com was recently acquired by Girnar Software Pvt Ltd, the firm behind auto portals CarDekho.com and Gaadi.com. Housefull is a subsidiary of Renaissance Jewellery Ltd. The diamond jewellery maker has manufacturing facilities in Mumbai, Bhavnagar and Bangladesh.

Housefull follows an omni-channel retail strategy where it sets up both online and offline businesses. The company claims to operate 41 stores in 16 cities and plans to increase the number of stores to 60 by the end of December. It also plans to launch its own private label of furniture.

The company recorded sales of Rs 72 crore for 2014-15, according to its parent's annual report. Average weekly sales from the online business during the year doubled to Rs 32 lakh. The average ticket size for online sales rose to Rs 7,400 from Rs 6,250 the previous year. The average transaction size was Rs 13,100 for store sales, it said.

A 2015 report by market research firm Technopak pegs the Indian e-commerce at $2.3 billion (about Rs 14,607 crore). The home segment that includes furniture and furnishing is three per cent of the category.

India's offline furniture market is highly fragmented. Big organised players in the segment include the Godrej group's Godrej Interio unit, Future Group's Home Town and Landmark Group's Home Centre.

The online furniture business has seen the emergence of a number of startups in recent years. These include Pepperfry, FabFurnish, and Urban Ladder, which is backed by investors including Tata Sons chairman emeritus Ratan Tata. While Urban Ladder follows the online model, Pepperfry and FabFurnish follow an omni-channel strategy.