In conversation with Hamza Patel, Managing Director, AP Group, who spoke about his brand’s distribution model and future plans.
AP Group is committed to the distribution and retail of international luxury products in India. AP Group is headquartered in Mumbai and its distribution venture commenced with the incorporation of watches of Switzerland. Since then, it has grown from strength to strength, bringing globally renowned brands like Versace, Swatch, Morgan de toi and Calvin Klein watches to India. We did an exclusive chat with Hamza Patel, Managing Director, AP Group on the distribution model of the brands they have and also the challenges they face. The Young and dynamic MD of AP group also has a heart to heart message for the youth of the nation. Read on!
Tell us about your distribution business model in India. How does it operate?
Headquartered in Mumbai, AP Group has been in the retail and distribution business of premium and luxury brands for three decades now. We are the exclusive distributors of GUESS, Gc and Slazenger Watches for whom we operate over 500 point of sales in the country. We have also recently signed with Esprit, Roberto Cavalli and Just Cavalli Watches and are extremely excited for the launch in Q3 of this year.
The distribution model is divided between trade partners, key departmental stores, watch chains and now the online platforms. We can proudly say that we are present with all the established names when it comes to any of these four channels, and have equipped them with a dedicated sales and planning team for smooth operations. Marketing, Accounts, Logistics, VM, etc. are functions that are controlled more centrally.
What is the Target market like and consumer dynamics for the products you deal in?
Well, with every brand the TG varies across the wide demography that India offers. It would be impossible to group them as each of our brands carries their own unique DNA and appeal. However, I can say that the average Indian consumer is evolving at a very rapid pace. He/she is now much more aware, discerning and demanding of an immersive experience. Loyalties too have become frail and brands have to do much more now to hold the consumer's attention. This really does keep us on our toes, which is why we are constantly ideating and strategizing new ways of connecting and keeping up to date with our consumers.
How is the demand for your product and how do you envisage growth for your company as well as the industry in 2018-2019?
With GUESS we rank amongst the top fashion watch brands in the country. With the after effects of demonetization and the introduction of GST behind us we are hoping that 2018-19 will bring a smoother operation. If so, we project steady growth for the industry over the next three years.
What is the market share you currently hold in India? What are you aiming at?
More than market share or volume growth, we are committed to establish our brands as the front runners in the premium and fashion category watch space.
What kind of partnerships do you strike for better outreach of your products and services?
There are an umpteen number of associations available on offer today. We carefully curate our partnerships keeping in mind our brand standards and maximum exposure to the targeted market. Ongoing associations include magazines, bloggers and even brands that compliment us. For example last year, we partnered with L'Oreal to offer their products as gifts with purchase on our watches.
What are the Product Innovations you are doing as a group that is in tandem with current times?
Product Innovations come from the brand. We have long entered a world that is more digital and technology centric. We have seen this with the introduction of smart watches. Albeit at a nascent stage it will be interesting to see how this category evolves over time.
Any one biggest challenge you are facing?
The longstanding challenge that has plagued the industry for years has been discounting. This was amplified last year. Due to the sudden drop in consumption, brands were forced to heavily discount to attract consumers which saw a huge impact on bottom lines. I hope brands and retailers find some way of coming together to combat this in the near future.
One advice for the young budding entrepreneurs in India
Most people I hear say that it is very important to do what you love; but if you ask me, I believe it is more important to love what you do. Just 'working hard' will never attain success, if it is not coupled with 'working smart'.