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International brands think global – Indian brands think local

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“International brands think global, Indian brands think local”

Need for changing mindsets, smart business practices and outlook

Mumbai, January 24, 2007: India is seeing an explosive growth in retail and the engine for this growth is the mall. But there are huge challenges in terms of rents, availability of front-end staffing, increasing competitiveness because of more brands coming into the market and reducing maneuverability, shortening of the fashion cycle – in short, sustainability –several speakers said at the concluding session of Images Fashion Forum 2007 here today.

Participating in a high power debate on “Foreign vs Indian Brands – successes, failures, Learning & Experiences, Investment and Returns,” leading lights of the Indian fashion and retail industry said that the issue was not Indian vs foreign brands, but new brands fighting for space.

The shortage of trained staff for the front end, partly because of the attraction of BPOs, occupied the best part of the debate. Some of the participants said the need was to upgrade sales staff to “sales executives”, give them a new pride in sales careers, focus on training and offer them long-term opportunities through incentives and long-term growth in the retail industry.

Sustainability being a huge challenge, many of the participants stressed the need for smart business practices to maximize every rupee on every square foot of space. “Don’t believe that your real estate is gong to do your advertising. Get the right people. Don’t let the idea of the mall as the engine of growth carry you away. The buzzword is cautious optimism and innovative business practices,” were the concluding notes on which the debate ended.

The participants sparred with each other on several aspects of the retail business. Indian brands always think local whereas international brands think global. “There has to be a mindset change. This is a high risk business.” Several asked if there really is a sustainable business model for India, keeping all these issues in mind.

The debate also covered the increased use of foreign models by Indian and global brands. Some Indian brand participants said they took a decision that the advertising would focus on the product. One participant also said that it was a fallacy that every foreign brand is a luxury brand. Some premium foreign brands aimed at affordability. “Who controls the brand image? Is it the parent company or is it the local partner?” was another issue that was raised.

The participants were:

Rajan Mudaliar, MD, ColorPlus
Vijay Misra, CEO, W
Nikhil Mohan, CEO Blackberrys
Akhil Chaturvedi, MD, Provogue
H S Sidhu, EVO, Koutons
Subrata Siddhanta, CEO, Cottons By Century
Vijay Jain, CEO, Orra
Chetan Shah, Country Head, Pepe India
Thorsten Allenstein, MD, Triumph (India)
Reetika Dalal, EIC, UMBD Forbes Group
Suresh Bhatia, Director, Major Brands (India)
Fazle Naqvi, ED, Landmark Group Brands (India)
Prakash Lakhani, MD, Gini & Jony
Inder Dev Singh Musafir, Director, M&B
Gagan Singh, MD, Benetton (India)

Amitabh Taneja, Chief Convenor of Images Fashion Forum (IFF), “The concluding session of the two-day Images Fashion Forum ’07 was a thought provoking session. We had some of the industry’s leading global and Indian brand leaders share the same platform each with their rich experiences, sharing their knowledge and insights in retail and brand building. What made the debate interesting was the fascinating growth story and learnings in the Indian market that each had to share. We end this year’s event with our grand finale, our Lycra Images Fashion Awards tonight, which we are all eagerly awaiting.”

IFF spokesperson, Meher Castelino said, “The final session of IFF’07 had the highest number of delegate participation to-date. We are proud to say that IFF has clearly established itself as the only platform for information and experience sharing between India and the global retail and fashion industry.”

Conceptualised seven years ago as a platform to prepare the fashion and retail industry to meet the needs of the emerging Global Indian seeking a global shopping experience at home, IFF ’07 has added interest this year with the current focus in India on organised retail and the current retail boom, the explosion of malls and entry of global fashion houses and retailers. IFF ’07 has brought together leading brands in clothing, footwear, watches, jewellery, beauty, home fashion & lifestyle that make up a huge Rs. 3,00,000 crore market.

For the first time in the history of branded fashion industry in India, Images sees the launch of the Future Fashion House ‘THE INDIA BRAND SHOW’ – showcasing fashion and style trends of 2007 by some of the most powerful brands – live on the ramp. Highlight of the IBS will be the Triumph show live.
One highlight of IFF ’07 is Fashion High Street with brand boutiques of Van Heusen, Dockers, Savile Row, Allen Solly, Reebok, Blackberrys, among others.

International companies representation include Channel, Bin Hendi Enterprises, Baccarose, Porsche, Benetton, Orra, Swatch, Pepe, Triumph, Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, Levi’s, Mango, Aldo, La Cenza, Adidas, and others.

International speakers include Carol Williams, President, May Co. Int., USA, Meg Lustman, Group Strategy and Development Director, Mosaic Fashions, UK, Catherine Dixon, Senior Analyst, GDR Creative Intelligence, UK, Bill D’Arienzo, CEO, WDA BrandMarketing Solutions, USA and Jon Penrice, EVP, Apparel Global Marketing, Invista, Switzerland, Klaus N. Hang, Editor & Publisher, Sportswear Int., Jeffrey Doltis, MD, The Savile Row Co UK and Aziz Merchant, Director – Brandz International Inc. UAE

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