Already a popular name among Karachi’s middle-class, the Imtiaz Super Market (ISM) has now extended its operations to cater to the Defense and Clifton localities of the city.
The Karachi-based chain of retail stores has opened its fourth outlet in the Defense Phase 2 Extension, on the Qayyumabad interchange – its first ever store in the southern region of Pakistan’s financial capital. Looking to edge out its competition in the area, ISM has equipped its latest store with all the features it feels will make it a one-stop shop for customers from the upscale neighbourhoods in the area. The new facility, opened for customers on February 22, is an entirely different experience compared to its other branches in Bahadurabad, Nazimabad and Awami Markaz (Shahrae Faisal).
The company has introduced a meat shop for seafood, poultry and meat; a greengrocery and a bakery. The outlet also offers relatively more space to customers – unlike the congested aisles in its other locations – which indicates that it wants to provide a different shopping experience through this store.
ISM had wanted to open a store in Clifton since 2010, but the plan could not materialise. Since then, however, strong growth in the company’s topline seems to have encouraged the management towards investing into more stores across the city.
Imtiaz Hussain, the owner of the ISM chain, had previously told The Express Tribune that there should be at least eight ISM stores that cater to the entire city – with the opening of its southern location, he has already achieved half the target. He also said that he wanted to open at least three more stores in Karachi by 2016.
A different target market
Although ISM has traditionally been a household name in the middle-income localities of the city, its target segment seems to be undergoing a spectral shift.
“We certainly want to cover all the localities in the area – Korangi, Mehmoodabad, Akhtar Colony etc,” said Arif Naqi, the company’s Chief Executive Establishment. “But customers from Defense and Clifton are our main reason for choosing this location.”
Hyperstar – a hypermarket located in the heart of the upscale Dolmen City Mall in Clifton – has already established itself as the go-to location for grocery shopping in the region since its launch. The ISM team now hopes to give it a run for its money.
“We are part of this competitive market, and every retailer is our competitor,” Naqi said, responding to a question explicitly asking him if ISM wants to divert Hyperstar’s traffic.
Opening day glitches
A visit of the newly-opened outlet on its second day of operations made us feel that the store was perhaps opened to customers a little prematurely. The grocery section, the frozen foods section and the butchery were not operational at all; and some cashiers ran out of cash, resulting in long queues at the express counters.
One of the exit elevators was also undergoing maintenance work, and customers had to spend extra time waiting for their turn to exit through the functional one. Limited parking space also caused a massive traffic jam at the busy Qayyumabad interchange.
More encouragingly, however, a second visit revealed that everything is up and running now.
“We had experienced some technical problems at the eleventh hour, and could not open certain sections on the opening day,” Naqi confesses.
“However, everything was fixed shortly.”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2013.
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