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May, 01 2009

Gamut of garments

An integrated international shopping experience for an Indian consumer who is no more ready to remain contented with the local and ordinary, is what Madura Garments offers at Planet Fashion. Till over a decade ago, the retailer was the king. Customer had

Planet Fashion at a glance

Apparel industry stands at Rs 1.5 L crore out of which the organised sector is around Rs 30 k crore. Madura Garments entered the garments business in 1988 with the launch of premium designer wear Louis Philippe. It soon introduced Van Heusen a year later, followed by Allen Solly and Peter England. Initially, the brands were distributed through exclusive brand showrooms as well as through shop-in-shops in multi-brand outlets. But then the company envisioned providing a world-class shopping experience with the complete range of the best brands in the country under one roof to delight its customers. This led to the opening of the first mega menswear store at Commercial Street in Bangalore in 2001, to be later christened as Planet Fashion. The entire experience is accentuated through the in-store ambience of space, class and overall identity designed by the internationally renowned architect Jean-Claude Panighetti.

Planet Fashion was conceptualized with an objective of upgrading the quality of retailing and offering its customers a world class shopping experience. Planet Fashion contributes to nearly 20 per cent of Madura Garments’ domestic turnover of its lifestyle brands. Currently, a part of the prestigious Aditya Birla Group, Madura Garments is the market leader in ready made garments, with a retail turnover of Rs 950 crore. Madura Garments exclusively retails Esprit. It also has a super premium lifestyle retail format called ‘The Collective’, which has a portfolio of over 50 international brands like Hugo Boss, Kenneth Cole, Ted Baker, Armani Collezioni, Versace Collection, Aquascutum and so on. Madura Garments has both in-house manufacturing facilities as well as dedicated factories which maintain stringent quality standards. It has set up a world-class suits factory with Italian collaboration.

Planet Fashion, currently, has presence in 50 towns across India with an annual turnover of Rs 140 crore, and an annual walk-in of over one million customers. Planet Fashion, today, is the largest chain of stores of its kind in the country. Today, it stands as a menswear destination which gives a complete wardrobe solution for all possible occasions, across price points, with the best brands in its category. Commenting on customer-brand relationship, Shoaib Farooqi, COO-Planet Fashion & International markets avers, “We have a system of periodically tabulating and reviewing the feedback we get from our customers. Many of our initiatives are an outcome of this exercise. The recent instance is introduction of the brands like Levi’s and Monte Carlo.”

Strong patronage

Apparel, being highly competitive business demands investment in design innovation and strong backend processes. Hence, with a long term investment perspective, it is important to look at the parent organization’s background. Planet Fashion takes pride in adhering to the group values like integrity, commitment, seamlessness, passion and speed of Aditya Birla Group. The strong patronage of the company makes Planet Fashion an obvious choice for the franchisee.

Whereas the brands that have not invested in brand and organization building are struggling for survival due to the onslaught of slowdown. Planet Fashion has not been much affected by it as the company has consistently invested in brand building over the past 20 years and has equipped itself with robust backend IT systems, supply chain, design studio and a strong retail network. It has strong brands across price segments that are certainly helping it retain its share during these challenging times.

Dual model sale outlets

Broadly, the company has two kinds of distribution models – company owned and partner operated. In the partner owned format, the associate not only manages the store but also purchases the stocks. The franchisee at Planet Fashion takes complete control of the buying and merchandising and remains closely involved in the day-to-day operations of the business, and therefore, understands the pulse of its customers. This gives him a sense of ownership, and Madura Garments strongly encourages the partnered model.

Emphasizing on strong viability of their model Farooqi says, "Planet Fashion has crossed the barrier where it has to offer a minimum guarantee to franchisees for signing up stores. Our model is viable to both the partners and offers an excellent return on investment. “ Moreover, with the brands as powerful as Madura’s, the franchisees are hardly left over with residual stocks at the end of the season. The key lies in intelligent buying and supply management of the company. The company’s merchandisers involve very closely with the franchisees at the time of buying, and also ensure timely deliveries. Also, during the end of the season sale, the company extends support to its franchisees so that minimum stocks are carried forward.

Bouquet of offerings

Madura Garments has the highest market share in premium formalwear segment in India and would like to sustain and grow its leadership position in this segment. Planet Fashion, the retail chain of Madura Garments boasts of in-house brands like Louis Philippe, Van Heusen, Allen Solly and Peter England. Each of these brands is a complete lifestyle brand with an exhaustive range of shirts, trousers, knits, winter wear, suits and accessories. These brands offer the best range across various usage occasions and price points. Peter England caters to the value conscious segment, with its shirts from Rs 549 onwards. Van Heusen, known for its formals is the ideal choice for a corporate customer. Louis Philippe caters to the status and style conscious contemporary man. Allen Solly breaks all conventions and stands out with its distinctive look. Associated with Friday Dressing, it offers relaxed formalwear for the young ambitious and the trendsetter.

Planet Fashion stores also have an edge due to prime locations, good shopping ambience and excellent customer service which makes them ideal shopping address for men. Madura Garments has recently entered the fast growing party wear segment for youth, VDot. In its pursuit of providing complete wardrobe solution to the consumers, Madura Garments keeps on innovating and foraying into the novel areas and look at brands beyond the Madura stables. Realising the need for brands in denims and winter wear, this winter, it introduced Monte Carlo in a couple of its stores. Based on the success, the company plans to scale up to other stores as well. In denims, it has collaborated with Levi’s, and is in discussion with other such leading brands, so as to position Planet Fashion as a one stop destination for menswear for all possible occasions - be it a formal business meeting or a wedding in the family or for a casual evening with friends.

Expansion plans

Planet Fashion is a major focus area for Madura Garments and has 89 Planet Fashions in India and the Gulf. It has had excellent relationship with its business partners. It strongly believes in expanding business through current partners and nurturing a healthy relationship. Its winning model has experienced success both in premium high streets like South Extension and Connaught Place, as well as smaller towns like Udupi and Dehra Dun. It has also signed up stores in towns like Karnal, Valsad and Vellore. Experiencing viability across towns, the company plans to take the count of its stores to 100 by 2009-end. Over 90 per cent of its stores are handled by franchisees. All future expansions are also planned on similar terms. Talking of the company’s expansion plans, Farooqi states, “We recently opened vast 6,000 sq. ft stores in Dehra Dun, Ghaziabad and Barielly and received an overwhelming response, experiencing which we decided to focus on opening large format stores and penetrate smaller towns; at the same time continue to consolidate our presence in the metros.”

The company’s philosophy is to open stores at prime locations in an area somewhere between 2,500 and 6,000 sq. ft with a good frontage. The business model requires an investment of about Rs 60-95 lakh. Even if one does not have a property and is eager to invest on the concept, the Planet Fashion retail business team extends suitable assistance. Elaborating on the kind of franchisees the company is looking at, Farooqi avers, “Retail is a serious business and we are not looking at mere investors. We encourage those partners who have a long term perspective and would like to establish themselves in this business for generations”

Regular upgradation of market inputs and customer interests

Planet Fashion operates in variety of franchise models, which are tailored to suit specific requirements. Planet Fashion is handled by a team of experienced professionals, trained in the best retail institutions. Being a part of Madura Garments, the team has a constant knowledge of best retail practices from international brands like Esprit. The in-house design team constantly upgrades itself with inputs from international professionals.

Madura Garments extends all kind of support to the franchisee at all stages, right from project conceptualization to establishing the store, from staff selection to constant upgradation, visual merchandising and stock management skills. The company does a thorough assessment of the location of stores in terms of its customer profile in the catchments and stores in the neighbourhood, before configuring the product portfolio through an in-house projects team, which co-ordinates the entire operation. In a place which has a university or a college in the vicinity, it would emphasize more on young and casual range, whereas if the catchments include offices, the look and feel would be more mature and premium bearing. The company decides on store layout designing and addresses aspects like category and brand placement within the store. It adheres to the overall Planet Fashion retail identity, and yet, ensures that the layout has the flexibility so that the product placement can be altered seasonally; it also maintains strict control on project cost.

Planet Fashion believes that the business has to be a win-win venture for both, the franchisee and the company; and therefore, closely interacts with the franchisee to extend any support at all times.

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