At a time when the debate around choosing Multi Brand Outlets (MBOs) and Exclusive Brand Outlets (EBO) has grown, the fourth session on the second day of the East India Retail Summit 2013, with the theme, ‘Star Regional MBOs: The Key Drivers of Retail in East India,” turned out to be relevant for the participants.
The session was particularly interesting as retail in East India has so far always been driven by key regional MBOs. In fact, creative localisation of both product mix and service have enabled retailers in East India to compete with the “big boys” of retail and EBOs.
Within this strategic context, the session on understanding the business of retailing in East India through the experience of the star regional retailers of east India was informative. The session was moderated by Rajan Varma, Head Knowledge & Editorial Alliances, Images Group, and the panel members included Shiv Daswani, Partner, Little Shop;
Satish Manti, Owner, Shree Shivam Attries; Sandeep Jalan, Director, Sohum Shoppe;Naveen Kanodia, Owner Spacio; Kamlesh Agarwal, CEO, Skipper Furnishing; Anand Agarwal, MD, Anand World; Rajnish Sethia, Director,Success; and Pratik Agarwal, Director, Moustache Jeans.
The discussion got underway with all panel members sharing their experiences, and how they created their businesses. Prateek revealed how he created the Moustache brand in 1984 retailing denims through their MBO. But 10 years back the brand started retailing with an EBO – the Forum mall – which resulted in a change in business thinking.
Sethia said that without MBO survive is difficult for his brand. Anand shared the challenges he faced while opening his 20,000 sq.ft. store in 2004 – the first air conditioned store in the region. In what was an eye-opening story, Kamlesh shared how his brand began expanding in 1995 with Skipper Furnishing now having 17 stores and loyal Bengali customers. In a similar vein, Kanodia, Jalan, Manti, Daswani, and Varma also shared their career journey.
He then moved the debate to what can be the different product mixes that retailers can plan and what they can offer to their customers.
Responding to this question, Pratik said that their primary focus was denims and then they expanded to making trousers, and then shirts. He also mentioned about their new brand named “M Brand,” a brand of women apparels. M Brand started with jeans and now they are planning to manufacture tops and accessories such as socks, belts, and wallets.
Kamlesh found that only keeping curtains was not working. He saw the requirement for carpets, venetian blinds, etc., as reflected by customer demand. Kamlesh mentioned that people of Kolkata in comparison with other metros were more sober in their tastes and they were more loyal towards their brand, and revealed how selling curtains at even Rs 39 per meter was successful for his brand.
According to Kanodia product selection is a need-based selection and visual merchandising is one of the most important aspects for them – so he keeps on changing his visual merchandising every two weeks.
While wrapping up Varma asked the panalists about their views regarding the future potential of retail in East India. To this, Pratik said that potential is tremendous in East India, and added that they try to showcase fashion all over the world. But he found certain problems with East India in terms of retailing in this region. The problems that he mentioned were basic infrastructure, IT capabilities, and Government policies, which are not retail friendly.
Sethia mentioned that 80 percent of his sales come from East India. Kanodia said that East India is very progressive. But Jalan said that the market in North-East India is better than East India. Manti spoke about retailing in Chhattisgarh where the market is still growing, and said that there were enough opportunities in the state.
The core sentiment that emerged in the discussion was that star regional MBOs in East India were successful in building their retail presence by retailing quality products to a loyal clientele despite major bottlenecks – and that in years to come, if such issues are taken care of, there is a massive opportunity for growth for retailers across segments.