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Oct, 16 2012


Today's women are fashion-savvy and like to associate with brands which, according to them, give the most appropriate expression to their tastes and innate sensibilities. With franchising emerging as the most popular business model, the retail sector of w

W ITH the advent of the 21st century, the demand for creative and fashionable clothes has engulfed the Indian market with a parallel growth of several designer labels and categories for women's wear. Social, economic and professional status of women and their dressing preferences have also undergone a sea change. Women prefer dressing up elegantly which adds to their self-esteem and confidence. Women's fashion wear in today's scenario is regarded as the most prolific retail sector that is chic, fashionable and revivifying.

According to the reports of MarketLine, a business information agency, the global women's clothing industry is expected to exceed $621 billion in 2014 marking a 12 per cent increase in next two years, while clothing retailers account for the largest share of the market at almost 65 per cent in terms of value.

Market outlook

Greatly influenced by the ever-changing demands and preferences of women, the women's fashion wear industry in India is highly fragmented and competitive. Thanks to aggressive urbanisation and increase in disposable incomes, the 'price-sensitive' Indians are now going for designer labels and are brand-conscious. To cater the fashion-savvy group of the fairer sex in the country, the retail industry is burgeoning day-by-day with the influx of international brands and indigenous ones too.

One of the pioneers in Bollywood merchandising in India, BIBA, founded by Meena Bindra, has brought about a rage for fashion among women in the industry since 1986. The USP of her brand lies in her ethnic designs, clubbed with Indian handloom and functional art, which are fashionable and at the same time, affordable too. The key division of the apparel business in India is growing, turning the women's wear segment into a lucrative and evolving market.

RNCOS, a leading industry research and consultancy firm, in one of its studies has estimated that the Indian women's wear industry, which is worth Rs 540 billion already, is likely to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of more than 11 per cent during 2012-2015. Its projection for 2015 is on the basis of in-depth study and analysis of feasible market trends, demographics, consumer behaviour, spending patterns and comparisons among western wear, ethnic wear, innerwear, maternity wear and fashion accessories.

About the trend in women's inner wear market, Arun Sivaraman, Strategy Head, saasya, says: “The women's wear market was worth about Rs 72,000 crore last year, while the women's inner wear accounted for close to Rs 8,500 crore the same year. The women's innerwear segment is expected to grow at a CAGR of 14 per cent or so during next one year.”

Shedding light on the outlook of the market for mother and child care products, Naresh Khatar, Chief Managing Director, Me n Moms, says: “In the celebratory spirit of the joy of parenting, Me n Moms has been offering baby care and mother care products for the last 20 years to quality-conscious Indian consumers.”

On the other hand, Nag Mani Roy, Director & Designer, Kazari Apparels, says: “The retail market in the  segment of women's wear is growing rapidly with the influx of big players. The metro cities have many women's wear brands but in small cities there is not a single big competitor who can fill this gap.”

In a study of US based Global Industry Analysts, it was noted that the global bridal wear industry is expected to reach nearly $57 billion by 2015. This market segment is less influenced by economic environment than other women's wear market segments as consumers are generally motivated to splash out on a wedding dress.

In addition to modern and contemporary fashion, Chhabra 555 has carved out a niche in the women's wear fashion industry in the area of ethnic and traditional outfits. The brand's bridal trousseau and ethnic women's wear have become the signature collections of women's fashion wear. Chhabra 555 envisages a collection ranging from traditional Benarasi silk to contemporary net sarees in a multitude of colours targeting a big share in key markets.

Key segment in retail

With the evolution of designer labels and their stores in metros, the rage of fashion culture has ranked women's designer wear with heavy price tags as number one on the priority list of ladies. No doubt, designer wear has unfolded the elegant culture of high fashion. In a race to ape their role models and celebrities, women are ready to go to any extent in a bid to purchase the dress which their favourite actress had worn recently.

Another brand W, is also dressing modern day women with their great fashionable apparel collection. The brand grew out of a need of a contemporary Indian woman for innovative ready- to-wear that combines fashion and functionality with a unique design sensibility and urban form.

However, more than 70 per cent of the market belongs to the unbranded and unorganised brands also witnessing the presence of some local and regional brands. Branded, super premium and premium categories constitute about 20 per cent of the total market.

Geetica Kweera, Chief Managing Director, Geetsfashion, believes: “The organised Indian retail market has opened up new opportunities with the influx of new and multinational brands. Indian Fashion, which was hitherto restricted to a niche class, is expanding to reach out to people of all sections of the society owing to the opening of our economy. This is bolstering the purchasing power of the middle and upper middle classes.”

Kweera feels that affordable fashion wear through organised retail has immense potential to grow for the next 20 years. “We need to look beyond major metro cities to tier-I and II towns where people are aware of fashion trends through various media but do not have access to these trends due to the absence of such retail stores. Good quality at affordable price is going to be the benchmark for any retailer for the next 20 years,” she says.

In addition, some brands believe more in franchising the women's fashion wear than any other business format. They have the conviction that the franchise route would help several brands to expand faster as the focus area in this format would be restricted to developing new products, giving more value addition to their channel partners, controlling prices and improving supply-chain management.

“We extensively leverage our high quality, innovative, affordable and wide product range to establish a strong foothold in the kids' wear and maternity care retail space. We have been scouting for franchise partners for the last few months to push our brand to quality seeking parents. We strongly believe our franchise partners would enable us to visualise correct market conditions in the target cities where we would expand,” says Khatar.

While Arun maintains: “saasya is ideal for franchising because of the kind of products we have, the market potential for fine lingerie and our brand value. We are also working on a whole array of retail technology that will deliver a great experience to anyone who walks in and also drive customers to our stores.”

However, lingerie, which failed to keep pace with the rest of the women's apparel market for a long time, has now created a robust market for itself. The modern consumer is very demanding in terms of what they like to wear. “saasya is one of the very few brands in India with an array of fashionable and fine lingerie. We are also India's only lingerie brand with focus on the super-premium segment. Our design and crafting is exquisite, from designing to selecting the right fabric, from producing the samples to testing them, from manufacturing the finished product to its  packaging and branding, the whole work is geared to deliver that great experience every time,” he says.

Modern retailing

According to a research by Technopak Advisors (2011), the online apparel category continued to be on the top of the list of high performers in e-commerce. The research reveals that this segment will now grow almost tenfold to nearly Rs 7,000-7,500 crore by 2015. The garment e-retailing business on the Internet has attracted investments worth $70 million i.e. 40 per cent of the total funding Indian e-retailers bagged during 2009-2011. A research indicates that there are only under 10 million Internet users who actually buy online in India, while there are about 150 million Internet users or about 75 million households that are 'ready' for e-commerce.

Miraaya in a short span has been able to strongly position itself as an apparel brand in Ethnic Wear with unique brand aesthetics, as it marries ethnicity with modernism. It is also present at leading online apparel e-retailers and intends to expand its presence across these websites and increase its presence and sales in these formats as well.

Blossoming together

One of the vital forces in becoming a franchisee of any business is getting the support for establishing the brand. “The primary challenge for our franchisee is location, just like in any other business. Being in the right place that is frequented by women shoppers is important. Our outlets are managed exclusively by women for comfortable shopping. We train employees and investors to ensure that they are geared up to meet any challenge and be profitable,” says Arun.

On the other hand, Geetsfashion emphasises on imparting soft skills like in-shop etiquettes, merchandise visibility, customer handling, ERP management with regard to outlet/store and daily sales report training to their franchisees.

Roll out prospects

Kazari, providing wardrobe solutions to contemporary Indian women, has already marked its presence in Ujjain, Ranchi, Varanasi, Delhi and Patna while looking for rapid expansion pan-India.  The brand is planning store roll out in Bhopal, Indore, Jharkhand, Jamshedpur, Bokaro, Lucknow, Kanpur and Bihar. The area required to attain a franchise of the store is 400-600 sq.ft, along with an investment of Rs 15-25 lakh.

With one franchise store at Guntur, Me n Moms plans to add 50 stores within the next three years via same model in tier-II and III cities. The brand seeks franchise partners with leadership skills and commitment to operate the stores excellently. “Applicants must demonstrate satisfactory managerial and business skills, including an aptitude for successfully running a business,” says Khatar.

Geetsfashion has two stores, one at Gurgaon and another at Ghaziabad, both of which are owned by the company. They are seeking franchise partners with a passion or experience in the area of apparel, fashion or retail, followed by considerations pertaining to the location of their outlet and their capability to invest according to the business module 'A' or 'B'.

saasya too is entering into franchising with their first brand outlet in Chennai, which is opening shortly and plans roll out across tier-I cities. An area of about 400-800 sq.ft will be ideal for a saasya lingerie franchise, along with an investment of Rs 25 lakh or so, depending on the space available.

However, Miraaya is present in 18 states of India in shop-in-shop format, and as exclusive brand outlets and multi-brand outlets. The brand is also into franchising and targets pan-India roll out.

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