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.
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