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    “Indigenisation has always been in focus at Koutons”

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    Great fashion at an affordable price – the vision that drove Koutons Retail India Ltd. from a relatively small beginning to becoming a dominant player in the branded menswear category in the India.

    The man behind the success, DPS Kohli, chairman, Koutons Retail India Ltd, is one of the founder pillars of the brand retailer.

    A graduate in Mechanical Engineering from Sambalpur University in Orissa, Kohli was involved in his family business prior to the formation of Koutons.

    He was joined by his brother in law BS Sawhney and thereafter ‘Charlie Creations’ was born in 1994. In 2002, Kohli launched Koutons with a focus on complete men’s wardrobe at the advent of organised retail industry in India with the presence of exclusive brand outlets in almost every city in the country. Kohli shares his insights in an exclusive conversation with IndiaRetailing.

    IndiaRetailing (IR): What is the driving philosophy of retail operations at Koutons?
    DPS Kohli (DPS):
    We are proud at having been recognised for our unique business model. Before launching any store, we carefully study the market and try to get a complete understanding of the potential areas. We then analyse the consumer profiles and expectations and accordingly launch our store and new collection. Our USP is always to provide ‘Great fashion at an affordable price’.

    IR: While taking your retail operation forward in the Indian context, what is the biggest learning from the current slowdown?
    DPS:
    Our unique franchisee model has so far kept us safe from the tremors of the current economic slowdown that the world at large has been hit by. With an effort to excel in the current position and operations, our message has always been positive and clear to our customers across segments.

    The concept of retailing through EBOs has enabled us to focus our strategies and efforts towards quality maintenance and customer satisfaction without the interference of any external agency.

    Indigenisation has always been in focus while planning and designing our merchandise. The in-house team of merchandisers and designers, including our researchers keep us updated about the trends in the fashion industry. We plan for the products at least two seasons in advance to stay ahead in this highly volatile market. Understanding the market coupled with strategising the concepts according to the demand in the market are the keys to the growth and prosperity of Koutons.

    IR: Your personal vision when it comes to leading your retail team.
    DPS:
    My vision to my team has always been motivating them in making Koutons Retail the leader in the apparel retail industry and also showing them the way of flourishing in their performance. Our network provides my team the latest fashion trends that they in turn convey to the customers.

    IR: Given the two schools of thought that are currently dominating the Indian retail industry — ‘aggressive expansion’ versus ‘slow but steady expansion’ — which has attracted you as your own retail strategy?
    DPS:
    Koutons Retail has always followed the mixed trail of expansion of ‘aggressive but steady expansion’. Our philosophy remains expanding carefully and the results have already shown in the form of earning our current brand value and customer loyalty. We have our plans of expansion in place for the current year. Though it might not be as big as earlier planned, we are confident of pulling off the essentials as intended.

    IR: Your comment on the expression ‘Powerful Retailer’. According to you, which are the three most ‘powerful retailers’ in the world and why.
    DPS:
    A powerful retailer is simply one who has a sound understanding of the consumer mindset and psychology and is able to deliver goods to match up to the expectation of the customer.

    On this basis, according to me, Wal-Mart is the most ‘Powerful retailer’ in the world. It fulfills a great retailer’s philosophy of always giving the customer the best of choices. The next in the list of greats would be H&M and Zara, respectively.

    By Sangita Ghosh