The Sara-Trans Fender showcase in Kolkatta.
Building India’s music market from the ground up
When commentators talk about the “Indian Dream,” they express a variety of hopes for India’s 1.2 billion people. There’s the hope that more Indian people will gain access to the lifestyles they seek, the education to pursue new ideas, and the resources to generate products and innovations for the world. As far as the music industry goes, the Sara-Trans Group based outside New Delhi finds itself in the thick of all these things. Founded as a manufacturer of bags and cases, Sara-Trans has since branched out into every corner of the music products industry, becoming India’s most in-demand distributor and the operator of its largest music retail chain, Onstage. “Sara-Trans believes in the ‘Indian Dream,’” says founder and CEO Jasbeer Siingh. “We’ve aligned our business practices to the larger objective of being a premier catalyst in India’s growth story. ‘Taking excellence to the world—bringing home the best’ describes the Sara-Trans Group.”
Established in 1989, Sara-Trans is located in the “Noida” district Southeast of New Delhi. Short for New Ohkla Industrial Development Authority, the city was set up in a push toward urbanization and is now one of India’s hubs for technology and higher education. At its Noida bag and case factory, Sara-Trans manufactures a huge assortment of products for travel, guns and rifles, and a variety of specialized equipment, along with carrying cases for the m.i. sector—earning it the title of “Bag Crafters to the World.” For six years running, the company has been recognized with the Indian Ministry of Commerce award for the highest product turns, and has been nominated for the seventh consecutive year. Along the way, it’s introduced constant improvements to its production line, bringing in new machinery and refining quality and efficiency to international standards. At this stage, says Siingh, Sara-Trans bags fall into the “often imitated, never duplicated” category. “Competitors have tried to copy our ideas and designs,” he explains, “but can’t match our innovations, standards of quality, and highly competitive pricing.”
Sara-Trans’ ties to m.i. manufacturers through its musical instrument cases has opened a path to the wider music world. In 1991 the company created its Reemal distribution branch, which would bring some of the industry’s premium instrument, accessory, and pro audio brands to India for the first time. The company now imports and distributes products from Fender, Charvel, Vic Firth, Gator, Gretsch, Line 6, and many more—while also working to build a market for its brands on a grass-roots level. Sara-Trans maintains distribution offices strategically located in Mumbai, Bhiwandi, Pune, Goa, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkatta, Noida, and Delhi. “There are many brands that we’ve developed and popularized right from ground zero in the Indian markets,” says Siingh. “It’s no wonder that Sara-Trans is the most coveted distributor for any international brand that wants to enter India.”
Since 1996, Sara-Trans has also been a leading force in Indian retail, eventually taking its Onstage chain into every major Indian city and many smaller ones. Combining name-brand merchandise with a modern format and an understanding of Indian customers, the chain is a market leader nationwide. In 2012 Sara-Trans upped the ante by opening Asia’s first all-Fender store on one of Kolkatta’s major thoroughfares. In its most recent effort, the company took its success with the Onstage chain to the web, launching the Onstage Online e-commerce platform. “Our stores are helping to connect a diverse and passionate community of Indian buyers,” says Siingh.
Today, Siingh explains, Sara-Trans is finding ways to integrate its manufacturing, distribution, and retail arms to create new opportunities for the Indian market. As a member of the Governing Council of the Export Promotion Council of India, a prestigious body under India’s Ministry of Commerce, he’s taken a broad view of the possibilities. Through Exact Business Analytics, a business analysis software package, Sara-Trans has been able to precisely map its distribution strategy, channeling products to match demand in growing markets. Further market analysis has led to a plan for a series of strategic alliances. Through planned mergers and acquisitions involving brands already in its distribution network, the company intends to “leverage the strong product knowledge, extensive brand portfolio, and sourcing base of the Group,” says Siingh. By combining these resources with the new e-commerce capabilities forged by Onstage, Sara-Trans hopes to establish what Siingh describes as an “omni-channel approach.”
What’s certain is that Sara-Trans continues to build on its operation, making major technological upgrades to its main factory and laying plans for an additional factory in the south of India. Through its locations throughout the country, it’s also entering the sound rental, events, and artist management fields, effectively taking the company into every dimension of the music world. “‘Pro-active’ is the word that best defines Sara-Trans,” says Siingh. “We have clearly carved a niche for ourselves. It’s been fun to be on the forefront of this progression and to be taking the m.i. industry to new levels
Subscribe to The Music Trades today!
NEXT PROFILE >>