Rachna Aggarwal

CEO, In­dus-League Cloth­ing Lim­ited

VM&RD - - WHAT'S IN STORE? INDIAN RETAILER -

In Ret­ro­spect: 2012

Yes, there has been an on­go­ing shift in the mar­ket and in con­sumer needs, both in terms of sen­ti­ment and evo­lu­tion of fash­ion. We found that the over­all con­sumer sen­ti­ment was damp­ened through the first half of last year but felt a cer­tain buoy­ancy in the mar­ket dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son that con­tin­ued right through the win­ter mar­riage sea­son. But from a fash­ion per­spec­tive, we found that con­sumers def­i­nitely are be­com­ing more con­scious and are fol­low­ing fash­ion trends whether it is spe­cific trends like slim fit, col­ored chi­nos/denim or more gen­eral trends like sporty ca­sual wear. The women’s wear mar­ket was and is con­tin­u­ing to grow, es­pe­cially in the case of eth­nic, fu­sion as well as west­ern wears.

Ar­rival of FDI

With the West­ern mar­kets get­ting sat­u­rated, many in­ter­na­tional brands are look­ing east­ward to de­liver growth. In the re­tail In­dus­try the cost struc­ture is quite high for ex­pan­sion, given the real es­tate costs, peo­ple costs etc form­ing a large per­cent­age of to­tal cost which is not nec­es­sar­ily re­duced due to economies of scale. As such, prof­itable re­tail is a chal­lenge. My point there­fore is while FDI will come in, we need to ad­dress ques­tions such as: What will be their catch­ment area? How many stores would they op­er­ate? How many cus­tomers would they reach out to? How many years would they be happy to in­vest in till the busi­ness starts gen­er­at­ing a profit? As such, I am not sure whether there will be an im­me­di­ate im­pact of FDI on the mar­ket, even if there is , it may hap­pen over the next two 2 -3 years. How­ever it will def­i­nitely help raise the bench­mark in terms of over­all cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence at the stores through qual­ity of prod­uct mer­chan­dis­ing, vis­ual mer­chan­dis­ing, groom­ing and train­ing of the fash­ion as­so­ci­ates on the re­tail floor etc. But brands/ re­tail com­pa­nies would need to con­tin­u­ously lift the bench­mark and need to en­sure the store hard­ware as well as soft­ware are of a com­pa­ra­ble stan­dard and qual­ity. How­ever, the big­gest as­set In­dian re­tail­ers have is their in­trin­sic un­der­stand­ing of the In­dian con­sumer across var­i­ous re­gions and states which will en­able us to con­nect with cus­tomers.

Look­ing Ahead: 2013

As al­ways, we need to fo­cus on de­liv­er­ing value to our cus­tomer: in terms of prod­uct pric­ing as well as ex­pe­ri­ence. We need to give rea­sons to our cus­tomers to keep coming back by re­main­ing rel­e­vant to his con­text and needs.

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