Dada Gu­jar, C'Lai

C’Lai, a brand spread­ing its name on a fast pace in the tra­di­tional sec­tor of re­tail, now comes to the fore. VM&RD gets in con­ver­sa­tion with Dada Gu­jar, Founder, C’Lai.

VM&RD - - CONTENTS - Sarita Gu­jar

Tell us about C’Lai.

C’Lai is a legacy started since 1925 and now widely known for its wed­ding col­lec­tion in­clud­ing a tra­di­tional range for the bride­groom. We started out with tai­lor­ing, and now we have etched our brand pres­ence in the men’s wear seg­ment. C’Lai has three stores in Pune (10,000 sq. ft to 15,000 sq. ft) and we plan to ex­pand our store pres­ence across Ma­ha­rash­tra soon.

Also tell us about Sil­ver­leaf.

Keep­ing in view our tar­get au­di­ence, we wanted to of­fer the lat­est in fash­ion be it for­mals, causals or eth­nic wear. We re­alised that both ca­su­als and for­mals can find many cus­tomers if we were to cre­ate a dif­fer­ent shop­ping en­vi­ron­ment for each with a strong youth ori­en­ta­tion with re­spect to the in­te­ri­ors, am­biance and col­lec­tion. Sil­ver­leaf was launched as a stand­alone store to cater to the youth seg­ment. To­day, Sil­ver­leaf is suc­cess­fully run­ning seven stores in Pune with stores sizes in the range of 2,000 sq. ft to 15,000 sq. ft.

Do the 4 Ps of re­tail business de­liver in the lo­cal mar­kets too?

Prod­uct: A prod­uct that looks good, fits well will also make good sales. That is what makes a brand.

Price: Prod­ucts that are rea­son­ably priced will suit ev­ery high and mid­dle in­come cus­tomer, and so price is a big fac­tor.

Place: Lo­ca­tion plays a very im­por­tant role. Your prod­uct can ei­ther tap into a new mar­ket po­ten­tial or dis­place oth­ers.

Pro­mo­tion: Pro­mo­tion is vi­tal to the ex­tent that what you want to com­mu­ni­cate is im­por­tant to be con­veyed. Hence we con­sider it a very im­por­tant as­pect of our business and this goes into our plan­ning.

What are the USPs of C’Lai and Sil­ver­leaf?

As we cater to the higher and mid­dle in­come cus­tomers, we are known to have all the prod­uct cat­e­gories across all price ranges. We of­fer a wide range to our cus­tomers. While C’Lai if fo­cused on the tra­di­tional col­lec­tion, Sil­ver­leaf of­fers ca­sual and for­mal wear to the youth. Good col­lec­tion in a good am­biance is our motto; that is what we are go­ing with for all our up­com­ing stores.

How im­por­tant are dis­plays, store de­sign and am­biance from the business point of view?

When I started the business, it was a small space of 300 sq. ft. But I was al­ways keen to dis­play our prod­ucts prop­erly and to some ex­tent I opted for win­dow dis­plays too. I no­ticed that our cus­tomers found it easy to buy what they needed. I also re­alised the im­por­tance of hav­ing good store in­te­ri­ors and

an am­biance that en­cour­ages the cus­tomers to come again and again. Some of th­ese as­pects be­come a part of your iden­tity and the way your ap­proach cus­tomers. Dis­plays, pre­sen­ta­tions and the first look al­ways make a big dif­fer­ence in this business. Hence, I reckon that win­dow dis­plays draw cus­tomers to the store and in-store de­sign, lay­out and am­biance make them buy your prod­ucts. We have started defin­ing our in­store de­sign man­ual wherein at the C’Lai stores you will find tra­di­tional mantras writ­ten on the wall and in the Sil­ver­leaf stores you will find funky, catchy lines about the brand; the wall­pa­per de­picts col­lec­tions in black and white through­out the store.

Is visual mer­chan­dis­ing an es­sen­tial part of a grow­ing business? How is it re­ceived by cus­tomers?

Visual mer­chan­dis­ing is be­ing done by var­i­ous brands and they do so as it help the business. It’s not only about how you por­tray your brand but it is also about how you en­gage with the cus­tomers. I see that many of our cus­tomers ap­pre­ci­ate a dress when it dis­played on a man­nequin with some styling. This also leads to some cross­mer­chan­dis­ing. A ju­di­cious use of visual mer­chan­dis­ing can de­liver the goods for you.

Do you follow the tra­di­tional In­dian cal­en­dar? How does it help you in­crease sales?

Of course, yes. That is how we plan our quar­terly or yearly business. I be­lieve that 80 per cent of tra­di­tional In­dian re­tail­ers follow the In­dian cal­en­dars – for de­sign­ing, pro­duc­tion, buy­ing and pro­mo­tions. The rest 20 per cent go the in­ter­na­tional way -- by launch­ing spring sum­mer and au­tumn win­ter col­lec­tions. The In­dian cal­en­dar is im­por­tant for any­one who wants to do good business here. Be­cause we In­di­ans are dif­fer­ent, we are re­li­gious and we follow aus­pi­cious oc­ca­sions.

Do you have on­line pres­ence? If not, any plans to get into it? If yes, how is your ex­pe­ri­ence of do­ing business in the on­line space and what is your strat­egy for the same?

When it comes to on­line we are still at the nascent stage. We will soon come with a slew of new ideas, new strate­gies. As on­line is the way to go, no one can af­ford to give it a miss.

Do you think that tra­di­tional re­tail­ers will be af­fected by the pres­ence of on­line gi­ants?

Not for the next few years. It might be­come a fac­tor in due course but I am sure ev­ery­one will be wiser to han­dle on­line and off­line strate­gi­cally with­out los­ing their cus­tomer base. And that is when good­will and brand loy­alty will be counted and your of­fer­ings will play an im­por­tant role.

Your ex­pan­sion plans?

Yes. We would be ex­pand­ing into three ci­ties of Ma­ha­rash­tra by next year with large for­mat stores and grad­u­ally we shall achieve reach in ev­ery cor­ner of Ma­ha­rash­tra and In­dia.

Any sug­ges­tions on do­ing business in the In­dian mar­ket?

The In­dian mar­ket of­fers the best ex­pe­ri­ence for any re­tailer who starts new and has big dreams. We are dif­fer­ent and I am proud to say that we are open to new things -- we can of­fer new ideas to our con­sumers. Thought­ful ac­tions keep­ing in view the present and the fu­ture shall lead you to a good mea­sure of suc­cess.

Dada Gu­jar Founder, CLai

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