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Women and kids wear minds at work in Pure and Play

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Leading fashion and lifestyle brands and retailers, industry experts and executives, primarily in the business of women and kids wear, put their minds to work on day one of the second edition of Pure and Play that opened yesterday.

The day begin with the session, ‘Walk through Pure and Play’, moderated by Gopal Ratnam Kannan, country head, Swatch India. The session saw Kannan attributing the evolution of the Indian market to modern Indian middle-class and outgoing women. “The India retail market is evolving and in the coming years, the middle-class women will determine the deciding points in Indian retail. With the entry of women in almost every corporate field, retail in India is going to gain more heights.”

Kannan advised retailers to focus on branding and communication to gain more consumers. “Store display and proper positioning of products play an important role in establishing a brand image,” he said. From his own experience, Kanan cited that women consumers are more attracted to products and commodities related to cricket and cinema. “Products should be communicated well, and cricket and bollywood should be regarded as a tool of communication,” he added.

Speaking on the same issue, Ram Chander Agarwal, CMD, Vishal Retail, said: “Value retail in India is largely dominated by women and children. About 70 per cent of our consumers are women, and we are focussed to serve this gender more.”
Speaking on the impediments to growth for Indian value retail, Agarwal said, “Operational costs generally bother a value retailer. However, if you adopt certain strategies, the issue can be managed easily. Controlling these costs is the key to success for a retailer.”

Agarwal also pointed out that some governmental policies are causing problems for the retailers in India. “In the current scenario, inflation has been the biggest impediments for the retail industry.” Nevertheless, Agarwal said that Vishal is not being affected by the inflation as, being value retailers, they provide commodities in lesser prices.

The inaugural session was followed by a debate ‘Sales vs space growth in different formats’. Anchored by Sanjeev Mohanty, MD, Benetton India, the session starred Charath Narashiman, CEO, Indian Terrain; Sanjay Dua, CEO, Lino Perros; Sumit Sharma, national head, Apparel Operations, Spencer’s; M Sathiyanarayanan, senior VP, Lifestyle; and Deepak Deshpande, VP, retail, Bata.

The panellists discussed various aspects of positioning of brand stores at shopping centres. According to Deshpande, to operate in different formats including shopping centres and standalones, the brand has to strategise its moves differently and accordingly. “In standalone formats, the strategy of operations is always different than that in a mall or a shopping centre. “We have been following these strategies and have been extremely successful,” he said. Deshpande further informed that Bata has been betting big on their high street format and is attracting more middle-class consumers.

Speaking on the subject of ‘Retail access: department store buying: The buying process and possibilities’, Sharmila Nadkarani, category head, womenswear, Pantaloons, said that the group’s department store buying process is more focussed on catering to the regional diversity of the nation. Speaking on the same issue, Shiv Daswani, MD, Little Shop, said, “It is difficult for a kidswear brand to make its presence felt in a high street where there are a lot of MBOs. Hence, a niche brand should focus more on strategising its department store buying process strongly.” Anchored by Vishal Mirchandani, CEO, Wadhawan Lifestyle, the panellists in the session included Roshni Bakshi, country head, Disney India, and Gautam Jain, CEO and MD, Jole.

Speaking on the issue of ‘How to bring newness and innovation in the business’, Thomas Yasuda, chief strategy officer and VP of Niknish Retail, said that it is important for niche brands to be innovative for survival in the market. “Kidswear and womenswear brands need to innovate and think out new ideas to survive in the market. The competition is very high these days, and brands need to make their presence felt,” he said.

Rajeev Gupta, CEO, Bizarre, cited examples of innovations undertaken by their group in the initial stages of their operations. Anchored by Anurag Rajpal, apparel head, Spencer’s, the session saw speakers exchanging new ideas for aiding their growth in the market. Speakers included V Vimalan, MD, Clonge, and Subhash Chhabra, president, Globus.

Tim Eynon, CEO, Prozone, anchored ‘Possibilities of joint promotion’, wherein panellists including Vishal Mirchandani of Wadhwan Lifestyle, Dhiraj Dogra of Ansals API, and Anupam Bansal of Liberty agreed that partnership between realtors and retailers is the best way of developing the business of retail in the country.

The grand finale of the three-day conference, ‘Nokia Images CEO Meet’, will see India’s top fashion and retail CEOs coming together on the stage for an open-house debate on the burning issues impacting the growth of the womenswear and kidswear market. This mega session will be anchored by Anuj Puri, chairman & country head, Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj, and Jayant Kochar, MD, GoFish Solutions.

India Brand Show (IBS), a series of fashion shows under the aegis of Fashion Alliance, is also being conducted at the Pure and Play venue. Leading brands including Mango, Reebok, Benetton, Aldo, Nine West, Promod, Charles & Keith, La Senza, Shoe Tree, Bata, W, Rosebys, Park Avenue, Park Avenue Women, Zapp!, Nun, Catmoss, Lilliput, and Okaidi are showcasing their unique collections at the event.

– Satrajit Sen

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