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‘There is a niche market in Goa for high-end imported wines’

Delhi-based Continental Sales Emporium is one of India’s biggest importers of wines and other drinks.
Its director, Sharad Shethia, during his visit to Goa in 2007 discovered a niche market for high-end foreign wines and latched on to it by setting up a office and warehouse in Mapusa

What do you produce?
We don’t produce, but the family business markets over 60 brands of wines and other drinks all over India through our company Continental Sales Emporium.

What made you to venture into Goa?
While on a visit to Goa in 2007, I overhead in a beach shack restaurant a foreigner wishing for a particular drink, which was a craze in France and Spain. The steward said ‘no’, and this caught my attention that there might exist a niche market for high-end imported wines. After a thorough research in some prominent hotels and resorts, my gut feeling was right and hence I ventured into Goa.

What was your toughest task in setting up the business?
Finding a suitable place close to North Goa where the tourist market was vibrant. It took some time to find people. I found the ideal location in Mapusa, a warehouse and office, and today I have seven staff who are all Goans.

How competitive is the market?
I am the only non-Goan distributor in a highly competitive market with Goan players who have been here for nearly a century. I import over 60 brands of wines and other drinks from Italy, Spain, Canada, Chile, Germany and Greek and distribute it all over India.

Have you achieved all your goals?
Every year we set benchmarks that meets our aspirations in one of India’s vibrant market i.e. Goa which is growing at 20 per cent. We have the most affordable wine brands which are cost competitive than some local wines.

Describe your best business moment?
Every year, November to December is our best business moments when the tourist season begins along with the festival season. But recently, I was approached by some wine and alcohol companies from Haryana to Nasik who were looking at collaborating with me to distribute their brands in the Goa market, for which I am now researching the wine market.

Give one aspect of Goa’s economy that is changing for better or worse.
If you have noticed, more restaurants are opening in Goa, thereby increasing the workforce and to meet the demand of domestic tourists. However, in the whole of India, Goan hotels, especially the starred hotels, are the best in line with foreign hotels. They got class and style.

What is your definition of sussegado?
This is the best part of Goa and it should never go out of their life. Instead, it should be described as the ‘joy of being lazy’. Goans have a surplus amount of `life energy’ so they take it easy to increase their life span. But if you lead a stressful life and exercise excessively, your body produces hormones which lead to high blood pressure, which can damage your heart and arteries. So better be a sussegado!

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