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May, 09 2011

EYEING A FAIR SHARE

Everyone thinks that fashion industry is by and large reigned by women's wear but in reality, it is still crawling towards maturity. After catapulting the growth trajectory in metros, it's now the turn of small cities and towns to grab the women shopper's

THE organised retail structure is witnessing a radical increase in India, as new malls are springing up in small towns/cities. As women's purchasing power is mounting with metamorphosis in their lifestyle, women's wear is evolving at a buoyant pace. The women's wear market in India is highly disorganised, as women are still not ready to spend too much on the branded apparel available in malls and high street. The price sensitivity still prevails, as women think twice before buying anything, whether it comes to apparel or any other fashion accessory.

Business potential

Though men's wear is reckoned to be far more organised, the women's wear is also thriving with swiftness, as the number of working women is exceeding and there's a shift in the consumers' demand. Influx of global brands is also a major growth driver in propelling competition among domestic players and provoking them to come up with a niche idea of retailing women's apparel through exclusive or multi-brand stores. To increase footfalls, some well-known brands in men's wear have also started diversifying into women's wear to tap the market that is worth crores. Brands like, Gitanjali Gems and Turtle Limited are likely to start their women's line soon.

Fashion quotient

Rather than signing for a minimum guarantee or lock-in period, franchising is well accepted by the brands, as it ensures lot more profits to the franchisee. Anant Daga, CEO, TCNS Clothing Pvt. Ltd, (Brand 'W'), says, “We follow a franchising model while venturing into small towns. There are no minimum guarantees that are offered to business partners. Lock-in periods are decided on the basis of nature of property and how it fits in the long-term retail objectives of the brand.” Kimaya will soon launch the much-awaited in-house prêt label, which will be propagated into smaller towns and cities through the franchise model.

Fashioning expansion

The big brands are now taking cautious steps in planning expansion in small cities/towns. They are conducting market surveys to understand consumer preferences, income spent on branded garments, proximity to competitors and availability of the real estate. On expanding, Daga says, “At present, we are looking at state capitals, prominent business centres and cities with younger fashionable audience for extending the brand experience. What helps us in making the right decision is our experience with multi-brand outlets and large format stores already operational in these markets. We plan to open 120 stores by end of this fiscal.”

According to Deepikesh Hira, Executive-Business Development, AND Designs India Ltd, a western wear women's wear brand that is the brainchild of Anita Dongre, “We are looking at couple of cities to target in the next coming year. Our company's strategy is to expand in tier II cities. A small percentage of our current stores are being run by franchisees. As of now, we are currently looking for more franchisees. ”

“Kimaya is planning to have around 30 stores across the country in the next three years with emphasis on tier II and III cities like Ludhiana, Surat, Chandigarh, Kolkata and Hyderabad,” said Pradeep Hirani, Chief Managing Director, Kimaya Fashions Pvt. Ltd.

Speed-breakers

So what makes this industry so tricky? The answer is emergence of foreign brands in metros, tussle with competitors in proximity, price sensitivity, selecting the right workforce who can convey the brand's image to the consumers, etc. Other areas of concern are choosing the right place with reasonable rent costs. To overcome the flaws, Hirani says, “We try to win the customers by product differentiation or by providing a unique shopping experience. Kimaya is known to go beyond the obvious to provide an exhilarating experience to our patrons with services like personal shopping, customised couture orders, etc.”

The concept of e-tailing is also burgeoning in the fashion industry, as players such as Kimaya and AND Designs will be launching their e-commerce sites soon to provide the convenience of online shopping to customers. The best part is, at the click of a button, high-end designers will be available in the smallest of cities and towns.

Be it metros or small cities, a complete market review is needed while selecting the location. The brand's success counts largely on conducting the brand feasibility survey in areas such as: demographic and culture mix of the city/locality, population density, traffic generators in and around the site in consideration, businesses in the vicinity, security, availability of manpower, property cost (lease or rented), traffic count and accessibility to public transport.

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