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Sep, 07 2011

SUCCESS IN ITS GENES

THERE IS A UNIFYING THREAD OF VIBRANCY, FASHION CONSCIOUSNESS AND CONVICTION IN THE BRAND AND ONE CAN SENSE THE METHOD BEHIND THE MADNESS AS THE DERBY’S TEAM SKILLFULLY GUIDES THE BRAND INTO LEADERSHIP POSITION.

IF a brand's success can be measured by its conviction in itself and the community it serves, Derby Jeans Community is already right there at the top. While the Derby brand has existed for close to two decades, it has in recent times, evolved into a youthful, fast fashion brand appealing to young men across India and with its vision firmly set on international expansion.

Wanting to add believers rather than customers, the community culture of Derby is spreading fast and wide. The concept was to create a first community of its kind where people of similar thoughts, ideas, sensibilities and goals come together on the same platform and share their passions and dreams. Derby Jeans Community will just happen to be the wardrobe for this community. 'Community Members’, as they are referred to may hail from different social groups like students, corporate professionals or anyone who relates to fresh fashion and the Derby Jeans Community is a perfect forum for them -one that believes they will make a difference in every sphere of life.

For Fast & Curious Men

Catering to the fashion conscious youth of today is an exciting and challenging task. Choice, comfort, quality and fashion quotient are very important. Expectation from apparel brands is not just about price but about finding a brand that is appealing and gives one a sense of ownership and belonging. Derby has evolved along with the customer and been instrumental in ushering in new styles, different looks and interesting fits. Detailing on men's garment is no longer boring or predictable as Derby thrives on putting such elements together for its community of customers.

The entry of international brands, greater awareness of international style and consistency of quality all are factors contributing to the growth of the fashion apparel segment in India. With expected growth rates of 40 per cent or more per year, the market is indeed attractive. Within this market, the jeans segment is also growing at 22 per cent. Derby, already an established brand in this space, is poised to capture a significant portion of this growth, backed by its pulse of international fashion and commitment to quality. Derby would like to be at the helm of the fashion world, setting trends rather than blindly following them.

The Derby Team

Behind the emergence of this brand is a team of passionate, dedicated professionals, who have crafted the community culture within Derby and extended the same idea to their target audience. Inside the Derby office, you can feel the pulse of the community, the energy and restlessness of youth, which is translated into the products in myriad ways. Starting with the MD, Vijay Kapoor, the in-house fashion designers, the marketing minds to the store managers, there is a unifying thread of vibrancy, fashion consciousness and conviction in the brand and one can sense the method behind the madness as the team skillfully guides the brand into leadership position. Kapoor readily admits his vision for a top-notch team with international skill sets is being fulfilled and that his dynamic team is one of the biggest assets of the company today. When asked about the significance of marketing strategies? Bharath Ramkumar, Manager - Brand Communications, Derby Jeans Community, avers “Marketing and promotions are as much part of our daily routine as making & selling fashion. Derby Jeans Community works on the unique concept of growing the community rather than pushing sales up. The community in turn has resulted in a cult and that has differentiated the brand from many international fashion labels.”

The Derby Jeans Community HQ and Stores

The Derby Jeans community head quarter (HQ) boasts of an excellent design and merchandising studio, R&D centre and a visual merchandising studio to house the various support functions that are the engines running the various stores across the country. A state-of-the-art manufacturing facility works with global partners to outsource manufacturing that meets their stringent norms. This makes Derby Jeans Community a vertically integrated organisation with global readiness.

Derby has tied up with top distributors in the country who work well with Derby's own logistics division to ensure that the flow of merchandise is effective, timely and well organised.

The Derby store has been redefined with a lot of time, effort and energy. It combines elements of International retail design with Indian sensibilities to achieve a retail space that is classy and yet appealing to young shoppers. The idea of grouping the apparel by themes into zones, the brand displays groups rather than individuals, controlled chaos in the store arrangement all blend together beautifully to emphasise the community concept in the store experience.

Derby Jeans Community has invested in the best IT infrastructure across its store network and its team ensure that they maximise the use of every installed equipment. An interesting example is the way  in which CCTV surveillance (installed to protect from shoplifting and theft) footage is used by every department in different ways. The footage is analysed by visual merchandising team to ensure display and merchandising is intact. The stock merchandising team uses the same footage to monitor and maintain optimum-stocking levels across products and the retail operations team uses it to track customer traffic and give inputs to individual store managers. Footage-based training is a unique concept started by the community and might prove to be the best thing ever devised for training retail teams.

The Derby Design

The design department at Derby Jeans Community is the heart and soul of the brand. A team of highly creative professionals conduct trend forecasting, analyse styles from across fashion capitals of the world and strive to bring these trends to the shelves in the least possible time. The designers have exposure to international trends and work hard to create designs that reflect these trends. Being global ready is the key. The idea of designs at Derby is to create an ensemble, a complete look that suits this community instead of looking at individual products. Each denim for instance is carefully matched and then created teaming it with a specific shirt and sweatshirt or Jacket. Merchandise is sent to the stores only as ensembles and never as stand-a-lone products. In each collection, the core element is the jeans that is made after weeks of R&D on design, fit and washing techniques. To complement the jeans, an array of options including shirts, T-shirts, trousers, jackets and sweatshirts are added to the collection. Thus, a collection is more comprehensive and can easily satisfy the wardrobe needs of the youth. As per Saikrishnan Rajeev, Head of Design, Derby Jeans Community, “We have been extremely careful and have stayed with our plan of creating the first truly international fashion brand from India. Original designs and quality craftsmanship have helped the team develop a world class product.”

The Derby Franchise

When you interact with anyone at Derby Jeans Community, the enthusiasm is contagious and you will be hooked onto to their community concept before long. It is hence not surprising that franchisees are treated not just channel partners, but as important links to a larger community. Derby has always believed that their team members, including their franchisees form the crux of this community. The value addition that these franchisees offer in their respective regions in terms of market understanding, identifying locations, human resources and community development is something that Derby values as more important than just investments. The value that a franchisee adds to the brand is reciprocated adequately, with the support that Derby provides to them as business partners. From the time a franchisee partner steps into the community Derby engages with them constantly and works together for identifying a profitable location, space planning, store set up, man-power recruitment & training, visual merchandising and marketing. There are regular meetings scheduled with franchisees to analyse performance and provide any additional support needed through all means. The state-of-the-art Derby Jeans Community Headquarters in Chennai facilitates the functioning of multiple departments that form the backbone of the brand and these departments work in tandem to offer complete support to the franchisees. As per Vijay Madhavan Thiagarajan, a 21 year old entrepreneur and a multi-unit franchisee, Derby Jeans Community, “Derby Jeans Community is not a brand for an individual its a brand for the community. The USP of the brand is its customer services, as we believe in offering quality rather than quantity to our customers. I and my brother took franchise of the brand  in  May, 2011 for opening two stores and after receiving an overwhelming response now we have added two more stores.” No matter how many stores are added, Derby firmly believes that each individual store's success is most essential to its market leadership. Right at the planning stage for every store, Derby ensures that there is no compromise on critical aspects such as the right partner, location and local promotion strategy. Profitability is the key to any business and Derby welcomes like-minded franchisees, who share their passion and are keen to work with a proven business formula.

The Derby Outreach

The marketing team at Derby represents its nerve centre and they run their activities centrally from HQ. They are however very careful in ensuring that these activities help reach out to multiple young communities locally. While effectively using all modern tools of social media networking, the focus is more on engaging with their target audience directly. This is executed by participation in fashion shows, collegiate cultural fests and events that cater to and draw the youth. To get the most out of its marketing spends, Derby has found it advantageous to work with franchisees who know their local markets well and can help sketch such effective campaigns and advertisement plans. This has proved to be a win-win model as the franchisees directly benefit by the brand's marketing activities concentrated in their region through road shows, cross promotions, college events etc. that create brand awareness and bring in more members into the community and therefore into the stores.

The Derby Dream then and now

Currently Derby Jeans Community has 37 operational stores in major cities and towns across the country including Pune, Chennai, Cochin, Patna etc. Soon, they are expecting to add another 12 stores. The goal for this year is to take the total store count to 70 giving Derby a strong national presence. All these store locations have been identified and signed on and most of the stores are located in the finest of malls across the country. While charting their growth trajectory, Derby still maintains the focus on quality rather than quantity in terms of retail footprint. However, the buzz is getting louder and stronger for this Indian brand that is well equipped to become India's first international fashion label. Every town and city that can sell fashion is sure to become a part of the Derby Community soon.

Fact file
Company Operational Since: 1994

Year of starting franchising: 2000

Number of cities the brand is present: 18

Number of franchise units: 27

Number of company-owned units: 10

Total investment: Rs 20-50 lakh

Area required: 600-1,000 Sq.ft

Preferred location: Premium Malls and High Street

Return on Investment: 18  24 months

Expected break-even time: 3-6 months

Number of franchisees owning more than one unit: Five

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