Crossword expands to 72 stores across India

New stores in Mumbai, Nagpur, Bengaluru, Lucknow & Hyderabad

Photo: Crossword Bookstores on Facebook

Crossword, the Indian retail book chain, began the year on a positive note by inaugurating a book store in the Ghatkopar area in Mumbai and followed it up with its first bookstore at Medical Square in Nagpur. The book chain recently inaugurated two bookstores in Bengaluru as well. The stores are located at Executive Chambers, Cunningham Road, and Lulu Global Mall. 

Crossword expanded its operations by opening its 70th store in the City of Nawabs Lucknow at the Phoenix Pallasio. The book chain recently opened its 72nd bookstore in March at the Sarath City Mall in the City of Nizams Hyderabad. 

All six stores are operational on all days and provide visitors a chance to go through their exhaustive collection of books, magazines, comics, and stationery.

Crossword gets a new lease of life

The book chain, founded in 1992 in Mumbai, has managed to stand the test of time. It was acquired by departmental store major Shoppers Stop back in 2005. Under the aegis of Shoppers Stop, Crossword had gradually turned into a loss-making venture with the gradual decline in sales of physical books amid rise in eBook retailing and the growth of eCommerce giants. The company had to shut down close to 12 stores in FY 2020 – 2021 due to pandemic-induced losses. 

It was embroiled in controversy in 2021 when Shoppers Stop, which had a controlling stake in Crossword Bookstores, sold it to Agarwal Business House (ABH) from Pune for a grand sum of approximately Rs 41.62 crore. After the divestment in late August 2021, the shares of Shoppers Stop instantly jumped nearly 6 percent at both BSE and NSE. 

After the acquisition, Agarwal Business House immediately got down to the business of expanding the book chain’s retail footprint and undertook a multichannel approach to achieve its ambitious plans for Crossword which include turning it into a book-first brand. At the time of the resale, Crossword was generating around 60 percent revenue from the sale of books while the remaining percentage came from sales of stationery, merchandise, toys, and other brackets. With a rich experience of over 20 years in the publishing industry, the new owners are optimistic about the recently-acquired business.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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