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.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital 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.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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– Naresh Khanna

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