With the inflation rate continuously rising, the prices of basic commodities are also rising in the open market. Among these retail and wholesale stores is Utility Stores Corporation (USC) which provides basic commodities to the public at prices lower than the market through a network of utility stores spread across the country.
This blog provides a complete overview of Utility Stores Corporation, its functions, history and the network of stores it operates. So, let’s begin.
History Of Utility Stores Corporation
Utility Stores Corporation (USC) is a semi-autonomous body that is headed by a managing director and governed by an experienced board of directors. The corporation was established back in 1971 and took over 20 retail stores from the Staff Welfare Organization to provide graded consumer products at prices lower than the market. Since then, the corporation has evolved and passed through various reorganizing processes to make it better and more structured.
Currently, USC is operating about 6,000 retail stores across Pakistan and about 60% of the stores are located in rural areas to provide quality basic commodities to these communities. The corporation has maintained uniformity in prices as well as the quality of products across the country. In order to circumvent any disparities, USC manages its own procurement, supply chain and warehouses across the country.
Functions Of USC
Over the years, USC has grown its network as well as the scope of its operations. The corporation has about 6,000 stores across Pakistan and 63 warehouses to provide a variety of products to the end consumers.
The corporation maintains lower prices than the open market by procuring products at the time of harvest which are then packed into small quantities at the USC warehouses. The effective network of the supply chain from procurement to delivering the goods to end consumers helps USC in maintaining standard quality, delivering clean, graded, hygienic, unadulterated food and non-food items and maintaining uniformity in prices across all their stores.
Moreover, Utility Stores Corporation has more than half of its stores in rural areas providing relief to the less fortunate citizens of the country. These outlets have been opened at the Union Council level enabling the corporation to penetrate into the deeper parts of the country.
Utility Stores Corporation is also one of the largest taxpayer organizations in the country that contributes to the national exchequer through various types of taxes. In addition to this, USC also supports the agro-based industrial sector, creating direct and indirect employment, which eventually helps in supporting the government’s mission to reduce poverty.
One of the major functions of the corporation is to provide consumers with essential commodities during times of shortage and that too at subsidized rates.
Special Roles Of USC
While the aforementioned roles are performed on the daily basis by the corporation, it also performs certain duties as per need basis. USC has also provided its assistance during crisis situations and natural calamities. One of these instances was the natural disaster of October 2005 when USC provided quick packages to the affected. Similarly, the corporation has also distributed packages during times of floods in the past.
USC also provides government relief packages such as Ramzan Packages through which households can get their groceries at subsidized prices. The corporation also collects market intelligence that helps it and the government to provide even better relief packages and intervene in the market through sales of subsidized items, act as a price moderator and deter hoarding, black marketing and profiteering.
Opening A New Franchise
The Utility Stores Corporation has a self-employment generation scheme through a public-private partnership. This is a low-investment and high-return scheme through which people can open utility stores in Pakistan to add to their household income and 70% of the gross profit is given to the franchisee expansion of the network of USC.
USC has a list of assorted items that need to be sold at the stores. A franchise can also sell items along with these if they wish to. USC has criteria for public-private partnerships and some essential requirements that need to be met.
Criteria For Opening A New Franchise
- One person one franchise, the utility store cannot be sublet
- The required age limit for opening a utility store is between 18-65 years
- Education required for opening a store is middle pass
- The applicant should be a resident of the same district
- Distance between two utility stores in a locality or a rural area must at least be 500 meters
- The covered area of the store must be 250 square feet
- If the franchisee doesn’t wish to continue and want to opt-out of the scheme, a prior notice of one month has to be given to the corporation
- A store is viable if it can maintain a monthly sale of PKR 300,000
- Registration fee of PKR 5,000 has to be paid which will be non-refundable
- A security fee of PKR 10,000 has to be deposited which is refundable and will be payable after the license of the franchisee has been approved
- Purchases will be made against advance payment through a bank draft or a pay order
- An initial investment of PKR 200,000 is required for the stores in urban areas and PKR 100,000 for stores in rural areas
- The applicants need to submit their applications at their respective USC Regional Office
- A complete set of documents needs to be provided along with the proposed location of the franchise
- A feasibility check will be conducted
- It takes seven working days to complete this procedure before the application is submitted to the zonal office
- The zonal office will review the case, make their comments or recommendations and the case will be forwarded to the head office within three working days
- After the approval for the license, the head office ensures the issuance of the license to the applicant within five working days
- If all the documents and other requirements are met, the whole procedure takes 21 working days to provide a license to the applicant
The franchise is operated under the rules and regulations issued by the head office which are updated from time to time. As mentioned before, a franchisee can opt-out of the scheme by giving a one-month prior notice period.
This is all about the Utility Stores Corporation and how you can become a part of the largest network of utility stores in Pakistan. Keep reading Zameen Blog for more lifestyle-related topics and don’t forget to subscribe to Zameen Newsletter for regular updates about the real estate sector of Pakistan.