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Calling all couch potatoes: Inox uses tech, service for customer stickiness

Top leadership at Inox Leisure Ltd is confident of sustained profits despite the vagaries of economic cycles

Alok Tandon, chief executive officer of Inox Leisure Ltd has spent 19 years at this entertainment major, spearheading it from the time it was a fledgling to now when the well-known movies brand is close to having 600 screens across India.

While increase in good content is helping raise the footfalls, Tandon's aim is to floor the customer with additional services, good food and the latest technology in movie viewing.

Here follows edited excerpts from an interview with Ruchira Singh:

Calling all couch potatoes: Inox uses tech, service for customer stickiness

Can you please speak about how you have managed to deliver high profits?
We have been helped a lot by good quality of content -- as we always say, 'content is the new hero.' So whether it was Q2 movies like Lion King, Chhichhore, Dream Girl or any other movie we can think about, I would say the way the stories were told were different and people came and saw those beautiful pictures.

Having said that, what we have done over the last couple of years is that we have emphasised a lot on three pillars (of our management), that is -- luxury, technology and service.

So when we talk about luxury, where we are sitting today, an Inox Insignia, we've got a butler on call, leather seats which totally recline, two motors in the seat which adjusts the neck position when you are watching the movie and the recliner takes care of the legs too.

We've got plush carpets and also the service in terms of how we serve to our guests, how we pamper them, how we ensure they come back to us.

We want to de-couch our guests and bring them to the cinema and we all know that Indians we love their movies. Watching movies is in our DNA and will never go away.

Consumers are always looking for something new and you know technology changes very quickly, so what's next?
We are working on something which we will be able to discuss in a month or two...

And now you are starting home delivery through food delivery apps...
We are looking at home delivery. Our endeavour is that we should be able to send our special foods and the entire curated menu to our customer if he or she wishes to order it at home.

Speaking of F&B, we have done a lot of things. Whether it is having more items on the menu, whether it is live cooking, whether it is healthy cooking, whether it is offering more cuisines, we have it. For example we offer 12 cuisines at our Megaplexs.

We want to ensure that when a guest comes to Inox, he has food while he is watching the movie. We have got different menus at different times of the day but we have something that is available from morning till late at night. We also ensure in our normal screens, a person does not have to stand in a queue to buy food. Where the person is standing, the point of sales has to be there.

Hence, we have got 'fast bite kiosks' all over the lobby where you can just go, order your food, put in your card and it will be served on your seat or you can pick it up at the counter. If you don't want to do that, we've got a food app embedded in our Inox app so just order from your phone.

There are signs of worry that people have been pointing out to and you yourselves have scaled down the screen additions to 71. Also you have indicated that the 900 malls that you have tied up with for delivering your movie premises may see some slowness. You have also scaled down your capex number and then there are those other indicators that are suggesting some kind of growth concerns are there -- for instance your average ticket price (ATP) has remained stagnant, in fact at comparable properties, your ATP has fallen marginally. Your ad revenue growth has slowed down...
I would say there is no slowdown at all. Today we are ready with lots of screens that are waiting for licenses to fall into place. It could see a delay of 2-3 months, but there's no slowdown.

Footfalls have risen well, but why has it not translated into rise in ticket prices?

It cannot because GST has come down from 28% to 18% and we have passed on every cent to the customer.

Regarding advertising, even in the year of an economic slowdown there is a 5% growth and there is nothing bad in that. And how we are doing that is that we have more feet on the street. We sit with media planners. We design their activities together. We tell them there is a lot of real estate we have in the lobbies so what we show on the screen can be sampled (or displayed) there.

Full interview can be seen by subscribers on Value Research Stock Advisor.