CEO, Indus-League Clothing Limited
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.