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Manyavar: Rooted in Tradition, Growing in Style

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Manyavar, Indian men’s ethnic fashion brand, caters to the debonair man who proudly flaunts his ‘desi avatar’ on weddings, parties and other special occasions. Recognised among the country’s most valued men’s clothing brands with 355 EBOs in India and overseas, Manyavar plans to have 600 doors by 2016.

Established in 1999, Manyavar, the men’s designer ethnicwear brand owned by , is a frontrunner when it comes to keeping traditional fashion sensibilities in vogue, in times when westernwear takes most of the space in men’s closets. Known for offering exclusive ethnic-inspired clothing at affordable prices, the brand has over the years created a cult following among male clientele with substantial customer base in India. Backed by state-of-the-art manufacturing capacity of over two million units of apparel per year, the brand retails in India and overseas via a mix of sales channels. A brainchild of first generation entrepreneur Ravi Modi, the brand began its journey in Kolkata with an aim to restore the grandeur of men’s traditional Indian clothing by popularising it as a unique fashion statement.

Having achieved its mission, Manyavar is today lauded as one of India’s most valued menswear brands. Shedding light on how it all began, Ravi Modi, founder and MD, Manyavar states, “We are the pioneers in reinventing ethnicwear for men in India.

Some 10–15 years ago, traditional attire was regarded antique but I looked at it in a different light – as graceful, distinct and ‘Indian’. Although it was a non-happening segment in fashion back then, I believed it to be an opportunity of a lifetime to build a business and transform the country’s fashion scene. Our conviction and years of hard work have finally borne fruit. Today, Manyavar is not only a market leader; it also symbolises the Indian ethnicwear category.”

MARKET PRESENCE

The brand is widely available in India through a network of (EBOs), multi-brand outlets (MBOs) and shop-in-shops (SIS). It also distributes overseas and is building up its retail presence in key international markets. With its first exclusive store rolled out in 2008, it has swiftly grown its store network since then. By 2010, it had crossed the 100th store mark. The next three years saw the brand triple its outlet count as it reached 300 doors across 100 cities in 2013. An important feat achieved during this period was its 200th store in Karol Bagh, Delhi in 2012. Spread across 21,000 sq.ft. area, the Manyavar store in Karol Bagh is touted as the nation’s largest EBO. Continuing with its growth spree, the company initiated international expansion in 2011, by opening its first outlet in a foreign location in Dubai. “As of now, we operate a chain of 355 EBOs (company-owned and franchisee-operated), out of which 8 are situated outside of India – in UAE and Bangladesh. Adding to it, the company is exploring different business channels in the US, UK and Middle East region,” informs Modi. At the domestic level, it is leaving no stone unturned to strengthen partnerships with retail chains such as Central, Ethnicity, Planet Fashions, Pantaloons and others.

BUSINESS DYNAMICS

In the journey till date, Manyavar has been committed to high standards in every sphere of business, be it production, operations or sales. It has numerous production units and employs over 1,500 people directly. Men’s ethnicwear is a niche segment and it primarily relies on manual skill across the unorganised sector. Based out of Kolkata, the brand has access to a large talent pool of local artisans. Modi affirms, “We have built an expertise and strong bond with local craftsmen. The bond is hard to replicate resulting in the unparalleled Manyavar fi nishes.” In the last fi ve years, the company has registered CAGR of 55 percent. In FY 2013-14, Manyavar’s posted a turnover of `500 crore (from 340 stores) with an average monthly per sq.ft. sale of Rs12,500.

The company is aiming to quintuple its turnover by 2016. On the new stores opened in the current fiscal, the company currently has retail area of 4 lakh sq.ft. (from 355 stores) to its credit. “Nowadays, ethnicwear is an emerging global fashion phenomenon,” observes Modi. Referring to competitor brands, he says, “Manyavar is well positioned and fairly ahead of its rivals. So, there is simply no competition whether local or global.” He also feels that one of the key achievements of the brand is the depth of relationships and trust it has developed so far with business associates and customers.

PRODUCT RANGE

The brand offers an exceptional range of traditional outfits and accessories for men in wedding collection, partywear and clothes for other special events. Some of the country’s finest fashion designers and artisans have been brought together to create the products at Manyavar. The clothing line consists of regal sherwanis, kurta sets, formal suits and Indo-Western fusionwear. The accessories range includes jackets, lowers, dupatta, juti, kamarbandh, bajubandh, kilangi, broach, mala (necklace), scarf and safa. Other than men’s category, the brand also deals in boys’ clothing.

According to Modi, each of the products is a signature; a manifestation of in-depth research, creativity and design, workmanship, technology and benchmarking at every step. What’s more, the brand plans to introduce a premium range in the price range of `5,00,000 in Mumbai and Delhi markets.

“Our plan is to transcend cultural and ethnic sensibilities to establish Indianwear as a widely accepted and preferred clothing not only in India but at the global level. We understand that this calls for fresh ideas, innovative products and even new sections, and as the category widens, it will certainly help in development of our brand,” states Modi.

OPERATIONAL GAMUT

“From its inception, the company’s operations are managed via enterprise resource  planning (ERP) module. The entire business is audited and monitored at three hierarchy levels. Statutory audit is done by Ernst & Young,” shares Modi. The company practices a unique merchandise ownership system whereby only products sold to the final customer would imply ‘sale’ while any other transaction is regarded inter-store transfer. The stock refilling, being an automated process, does not require manual intervention. Other key highlights of the company’s operational efficiency include inter-store transfers, which enables each store to access the inventory of other outlets. The brand receives 85 percent customer conversions with an average stock turnover of 3.5 times per year; single-order deliveries are made within seven days. Moreover, product development based on  consumer insights computed scientifi cally has helped in containing dead stock
levels to 4 percent. As a result, the company does not require holding end-of-season sales for stock clearance.

The leadership at Manyavar lays greater stress on fair play and socially responsible business practices and strategies. These values have become interwoven with its systems, operations and people. Consequently, the company enjoys a higher retention rate across employees, vendors and customers. In the words of Modi, improving overall gross margins throughout the years along with increasing gross margin per square feet of retail area are a testimony of Manyavar’s superior business policy and standards.

TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION

The company boasts 100 percent IT-led operations. Each of its manufacturing units and stores are centrally controlled from the head offi ce in Kolkata. The company also relies on varied ERP tools to manage distribution across various store locations. Whilst integrated, technology-enabled distribution and logistics network comprising warehouse management system (WMS) and merchandise management system (MMS) facilitate optimal allocation and utilisation of resources, internal control system (ICS) takes care of sourcing, logistics, inventory management and store administration.

Acknowledging the fact that technology is the backbone of everyday workings at Manyavar, Modi points out, “We use real-time management information system (MIS) that ensures flawless flow of information across the organisation resulting in quick turnaround time and enhanced service qualities which in turn maximises operational effectiveness on the whole.”

These days increasing number of fashion brands are taking the e-commerce route to boost sales. Likewise, Manyavar too has tie-ups with several online shopping sites. The brand as also launched its own web store (manyavar.com) to access worldwide audiences. The portal uses latest technology tools to extend secure and hassle-free online shopping experience to consumers. It is equipped with a virtual trial room called ‘aaina’ to overcome the paucity of touch and feel experience offered in physical stores.

CONSUMER CONNECT

The company strives to forge an emotional connect with its target customer. It creates impact by presenting itself as ‘a mark of respect’, a brand with which consumers can proudly associate with. Modi says, “Our customers can easily relate to our brand’s personality. For them, Manyavar is more than something to wear; it is a relationship which essentially translates into brand loyalty.” He goes on to say that customer service and commitment to its patrons are the driving force behind the business. High service standards are cornerstones of Manyavar’s customer service. The company has a dedicated team of customer support executives, which provides 24/7 assistance. Consumers can contact them via online, help desk or toll-free phone numbers.

Undoubtedly, Manyavar is the unrivaled category leader but even today traditionalwear is typically reserved for weddings and cultural events. However, the brand is striving to present itself as a ‘celebration wear’ for all occasions. For this, it plans to bring in newer designs and broader offerings to gain better reception.

MARKETING AND OUTREACH

As far as brand recognition is concerned, Manyavar is among the most visible menswear brands in the Indian market. It is the largest spender in the segment across 360-degree media including a mix of ATL and BTL communication. The brand also leverages on  social media for marketing purposes. Its offi cial Facebook page has a fan base of over 1 lakh people. The brand has also joined forces with India’s biggest sporting event, the Indian Premier League.

Modi shares, “As part of our brand promotion strategy, we have tied up with cricket teams of Delhi, Hyderabad and Kolkata. Some of the most recognisable players from the cricketing world wear Manyavar’s logo on the field.” Besides marketing, the brand also focuses on CSR initiatives for brand building. Modi asserts, “Beyond corporate deliverance, Manyavar makes an active commitment to human respect.” Modi is the founder of Manas, a social organisation that provides funding for heart surgeries for the needy. It also supports the tribal with financial and medical help.

AWARDS & ACCOLADES

Manyavar has walked a long trail of success since its inception in 1999. It has won several awards and accolades for its pioneering efforts in revitalising ethnic fashion and achieving several milestones in retail business. Some of the awards won so far include, Critic’s Choice for Pioneering Effort in Category Creation at India Fashion Forum (IFF), Mumbai (2009); Most Admired Ethnic Wear Brand from East India at East India Retail Summit (EIRS), Kolkata (2010); Most Admired Men’s Ethnic Wear Brand of the Year at IFF, Mumbai (2011); listed among the best 100 brands in India (across all categories) by Power Brand at an event held by Planman Marcom (2011); Most Admired Retailer of the Year (East India), Men’s Wear – Indian at EIRS, Kolkata (2012); Most Admired Men’s Indian Wear Brand of the Year at IFF, Mumbai (2012); Images Most Outstanding Performer in Retail Business (East India) at EIRS, Kolkata ( 2013); Fastest Growing Company (2013) at ET Bengal Corporate Awards 2014, Kolkata; and Pioneer in Ethnic Retail Business at Asia Retail Congress (2014). The brand’s founder, Modi, has been felicitated at several forums for taking Manyavar to its present glory. Some of the awards swept by him include: Youngest Retailer of the Year awarded at Asia Retail Congress (ARS) at Mumbai (2012); and Retail Leadership Award at ARS, Mumbai (2013). He has been recognised as the ‘Youngest Jewel of Rajasthan’. The award enlists him among 65 pioneering leaders from Rajasthan and across the globe.

WHAT’S IN STORE?

With increasing nationwide presence, the brand looks ahead to the future eagerly. Regarding the brand’s expansion plans, Modi says that Manyavar has set a target to have 600 EBOs by 2016. The current expansion phase will entail opening of 100 flagship stores in India and 50 stores globally. Speaking  about the growth strategy, he reveals, “We plan to roll out 10 flagship stores in all the metro cities every year.” As a result, the brand is expecting to cover around 200 cities in India and internationally. The company also plans to increase its production capacity to 5 million pieces per annum. During this period, Manyavar is also working towards launching ‘Manya’, the womenswear label.