PROFIT PLANET WITH A PANACHE
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Sep, 10 2010

PROFIT PLANET WITH A PANACHE

Housing renowned men's wear brands like Louis Philippe, Van Heusen, Allen Solly and Peter England under one roof, Planet Fashion provides an international flavour to the Indian retail sector.

Housing renowned men's wear brands like Louis Philippe, Van Heusen, Allen Solly and Peter England under one roof, Planet Fashion provides an international flavour to the Indian retail sector. The retail major has just opened its 100th store at CMH Road, Bengaluru, boosting its already successful retail model!

PLANET Fashion, the retail initiative of Madura Garments that came into existence in 2001 at Commercial Street in Bangalore, provides a complete wardrobe solution for men with its wide array 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. Planet Fashion is an ideal shopping destination for men, given its presence at prime locations with the best shopping ambience and customer services it provides.

Formal wear is Planet Fashion's USP and its largest selling segment. If Van Heusen is the ideal choice for a corporate customer, Worldwear is an exclusive premium formal offering ideal for business meetings and boardrooms. Louis Philippe caters to the status and style-conscious contemporary man. The Permapress range of Louis Philippe is the top-of-the-line formal wear segment, which is also suited well for special ceremonial occasions where one needs to stand out. LP Sports collection from Louis Philippe is also gaining popularity with their slim fit shirts and trousers. Peter England caters to the value-conscious segment. In casual wear, Allen Solly fills the gap with its youthful contemporary look, whereas VDot caters to the need of a young party hopper.

Leading the way

Men's wear is segregated into casuals, formals, semi-formals and ethnic and availability of exclusive premium brands in all categories under one roof has given Planet Fashion a distinct lead. Planet Fashion is the only chain of stores that provides world-class shopping experience and a unique retail model. According to a study by Technopak Advisors, the men's ready-to-wear market is worth around US$ 1 billion and the total demand for men's apparel, including custom-made garments, is closer to US$ 9.3 billion.

Planet Fashion has added a few leading brands to its already impressive portfolio with names like Levi's, Monte Carlo, Jockey and designer ethnic wear from Manyavar; each of which is a market leader in its category. Planet Fashion provides its patrons the best collection of merchandise across all sections and for every occasion.

“Our merchandisers select the best out of each of the brands and present an exhaustive and comprehensive range across designs, fits and price points. We constantly seek feedback from our stores and reconfigure our offering to reflect the customers' needs. We don't want to rope in many brands, for we believe in selecting the best from each category,” says Ashish Dikshit, President, Madura Garments.

A true leader

Planet Fashion has made a mark in men's wear segment like a true leader. It has presence in more than 60 towns across India and registers an annual turnover of Rs 150 crore. It has reached a 100  store mark, with its presence across India and abroad. It has an aggressive footfall of more than 2.5 million customers. Its retail model has experienced success both in premium high streets like South Extension and Connaught Place in Delhi as well as smaller towns like Udupi and Dehradun. The store size varies from 2,500 to 7,000 sq.ft, depending upon the location. Presently, the brand offers an ideal men's wear destination, providing a complete wardrobe solution for all occasions, across price points.

The company prefers opening stores at prime locations, hence the franchisee should have a suitable property of 2,500 to 6,000 sq.ft with a good frontage. Its business model requires an investment of about Rs 60 to 95 lakh. Even if one does not have the required property and is eager to invest in the concept, Planet Fashion's retail business team extends suitable assistance. Planet Fashion operates a variety of franchise models, tailored to suit specific requirements. It is handled by a team of experienced professionals trained at the best retail institutions. Being a part of Madura Garments, the team has expert knowledge on best retail practices acquired from international brands like Esprit.

The company extends support to the franchisee at all stages, right from project conceptualisation to establishing the store, from staff selection to constant upgradation, visual merchandising and stock management skills and so on. Planet Fashion believes that the business has to be a win-win venture for the franchisee and the company and thus, it closely interacts with the franchisees to extend support at any time.

The company also holds regular franchise meets (once in two years) and stays in regular contact with franchisees. The operations team frequently visits the franchisees and conducts one-on-one meetings at their stores.

Designing expansion

Attributed to its highly successful retail model, Planet Fashion has received frequent inquiries from locations like Itanagar, Erode and Sonepat, where franchisees have shown tremendous faith in the retail model. They have also gained confidence through success achieved in places like Salem, Tirupur, Varanasi, Karnal and Bathinda. More than 80 per cent of Planet Fashion stores are franchisee-owned.

Given that Planet Fashion is aggressively looking at expanding in smaller towns, franchising is its ideal choice. By the end of the year, the company plans to have over 120 stores, for which most of the properties have been signed up.

Benefits  Galore

Every franchisee associated with Planet Fashion enjoys the advantage of getting more at less price, which implies that every franchisee enjoys the franchise of multiple brands at a lesser amount. A franchisee has an option of investing in a single exclusive brand stores, or opening a Planet Fashion of 3000 sq ft that showcases 8 to 10 leading brands under one roof. Planet Fashion's merchandisers are closely involved with the franchisees at the time of buying to ensure timely deliveries. Also during the end of the season sale, they extend support to franchisees so that minimum residual stocks are carried forward.

“We have had excellent experience with our franchisees, most of whom have been associated with us since inception. They take immense pride in dealing with our organisation and have active ownership in the business model. Since ours is a profitable concept, we are constantly approached by many investors and prospective franchisees for partnerships,” informs Dikshit.

Best performing markets

Depending on the need of the market, customer preferences and business viability, north and south markets have been the best performing so far for Planet Fashion. Outlets in markets like Salem, Tirupur, Varanasi, Karnal and Bathinda top the performance list. Other markets are also growing at an encouraging pace.

Even during recession, Planet Fashion registered a growth of 15 per cent in the last financial year. This is quite commendable despite the conservative consumer buying in many markets for most part of the year, especially in IT-dominated neighbourhood.

Says Mr Shoaib Farooqi, “Apparel is a business which involves high degree of personal involvement. Therefore, Planet Fashion encourages partners who share the same passion and dedication for this business.”

Interview

'We have an ideal retail concept’

Planet Fashion has attained a new retail identity since its launch in the year 2001. It has transformed into a  customer-centric retail destination in its attempt to carve a niche for itself. Shoaib Farooqi, Chief Operating Officer, shares the journey with TFW.

How competitive is the market for you as a brand?

Planet Fashion has a very unique concept where we have eight top and very successful brands under one roof, which cater to the customers across all price points and all occasions. These brands are leaders in their respective categories. In India, people spend a lot of money during marriage seasons and Planet Fashion is an ideal retail concept for this. We categorise customers into three groups: brand seeker, choice seeker and value seeker. Planet Fashion has an edge in all these three segments.

What makes retail franchising viable?

Retailing demands passion, commitment and hard work. Franchisees when involved in the business become owners of the business. They understand local needs better. In a highly competitive environment, customer service and relationship with the  customer are keys to success and franchisee plays an important role. This along with the strength of the brands & support from the parent company is a guarantee for making  the business model viable and profitable

What are your international expansion plans?

At present, we see huge opportunity in India. There are more than 100 cities for expansion. However, there is a substantial Indian community abroad and therefore we see a huge potential in tapping that segment for expansion. We have already opened stores in Middle East and SAARC countries.

How much time it takes for a store to reach the break-even and what is the expected RoI?

In many cases, we have seen success coming in the very first three to six months. Examples are our stores in Bathinda, Moradabad, CMH road (Bangalore), Trichi, Shillong, Udupi, Tirupur, Salem and Belgaum. Some of our franchisees are looking forward to opening a second store within six months of the opening of thefirst store. However, the key to success is selecting the right location and a business partner who shares the same passion.

Which are your target cities for expansion in India?

We want to increase our presence from current 60 towns to 100 in the next two years. Therefore, all tier II and III cities are our target markets.

However, we are planning to expand in metros as well as mini-metros.

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