Xiaomi India’s sales head for brick-and-mortar trade Deepak Nakra has put in his papers and joined rival Realme India as its overall sales head.

Nakra’s Linkedin profile confirmed the move. This comes at a time when Realme has gained significant share in online smartphone sales and emerging as the biggest threat to Xiaomi, Samsung, Oppo and Vivo.

Realme has plans to foray into offline trade and set up company-owned stores through foreign direct investment (FDI) in single brand retail under the automatic route. Nakra is likely to lead on that front, an industry executive said.

Nakra had joined Xiaomi in 2017 and before that was with Samsung where he was director of sales and distribution for South and West.

Realme India’s CEO Madhav Sheth recently told ET that the company has taken over ownership of realme.com from its trade partner and will open six exclusive company-owned brick-and-mortar stores in large metros in the second half of the calendar year. These outlets will be 1,000 square feet plus and will come up in Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.

At present, Vivo and Xiaomi are the two leading smartphone makers who have taken ownership of their retail operations in the country under retail FDI.

Realme, which started operations last May, is owned by China’s BBK Group that also owns Oppo, Vivo and OnePlus. Realme became the fifth largest last smartphone maker in India in January-March quarter as per IDC after Xiaomi, Samsung, Vivo and Oppo, and the third largest in online sales after Xiaomi and Samsung in the same period, Counterpoint Research data showed.

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Sheth had also said Realme has initiated talks with leading retail chains for sales of its handsets after several of them stopped or refused to sell due to the low margin offered. The company has recently inked a deal with South’s leading chain, Sangeetha Mobile.

“We are discussing with all the big chains on margin, product placement and selling of accessories which we will launch in second half. If there is consumer demand then retailers will be bound to keep the product. We want to generate more demand,” said Sheth. As of now, offline sales account for 20% of Realme’s revenue with presence in 8,000 cellphone stores in 50 cities, which it wants to scale up to 20,000 outlets in 150 cities.





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