Shoe Repair - Mr. Pronto in malls in Chennai, Delhi and Bangalore

Mr. Pronto is a national chain offering shoe and bag repair services. The brand was started by Mr. Pronto’s Executive Director Abhishek Dhingra in 2003, inspired by a similar chain in Philippines called Mr Quickie focusing on shoes and leather goods maintenance. It currently runs nine stores in Chennai (5 stores), Bangalore (3 stores) and Delhi (1 store), with the average store size being 150 to 300 sq.ft. The investment for each store varies between Rs 9-10 lakh, including interiors, equipment, labour and other set-up costs.

Mr. Pronto takes care of all aspects of repair and maintenance issues related to shoes and bags of customers. No only that, it also repairs briefcases, handles, locks, straps, hinges and zippers and some of its outlets provide key duplication services too. Its USP is that it does the same job as the cobbler down the road but in a much better way by sourcing top quality materials and giving proper training to its staff.
Though Mr. Pronto has some high-street outlets in Chennai, outside the city, the company is only looking at malls to open stores. “Malls are definitely more convenient and provide better infrastructure than high-street. The customer base is in the mall and parking gets taken care of. It is also much easier to manage stores located in malls from any location in India,” says Dhingra.
Mr. Pronto intends opening a store next year in Hyderabad while this year it is focusing on opening five to six more stores in Chennai, Bangalore and Delhi where it is already present. Interestingly, not too many youngsters frequent Mr. Pronto stores as they are not very interesting in getting shoes repaired. Instead, they prefer buying new ones. “For our stores, we are targeting people above 30 years of age,” says Dhingra.

The company’s top performing store is at the TTK Road in Chennai, followed by its outlets at the Mantri Square Mall and the Forum Mall, respectively, in Bangalore. The actual conversions are around 35 customers per day at better performing stores on weekdays and 60-70 on weekends. The average bill value is Rs 200 to Rs 300. The good stores do a business of about Rs 7,000 to Rs 8,000 a day in a good month on an average. While for most retailers, festivals like Diwali are boom time, for Mr. Pronto, these is sluggish time because nobody thinks of getting shores repaired while they are busy celebrating and are in a mood to buy new things.

“Customers have never been an issue in this business. The main challenge is in finding trained and good hands,” says Dhingra. “It is labouroriented and handling labour is not easy. A lot of skilled labour in India is in so much of debt that in order to get good people you have to buy out their debt first. For example, when a skilled person comes to you looking for a job, he will say he already owes some people Rs 15,000 or Rs 20,000 and ask you to first loan him this amount before he can start working for you. We are intermingled with a lot of cobbler communities and getting staff is a challenge because all these people are severely in debt or fallen in a debt trap from which they cannot get out. So we get them to open bank accounts and put in a system to get them out of their debts.” Mr. Pronto currently follows a unique strategy of company-owned but franchisee-operated outlets.

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