Ajay Amalean, Co-founder, MAS Holdings and MD, MAS Brands and Retail for India shares all about his business and vision for the company.
Amalean established MAS Holdings in 1987 that works with top international lingerie and sportswear retailers including Marks & Spencer, Victoria’s Secrets and Nike. Next, he wanted to build a portfolio of inspirational, iconic and close-to-skin fashion brands, and hence introduced MAS Brands and a premium lingerie label Amanté in 2007. Amalean discusses his brand, textile and manufacturing business spread across South Asia.
Tell us about MAS Holdings and MAS Brands.
Both are two different businesses. One supplies to other retailers and the other is our product line. MAS Holdings has been in the business for 25 years. We started the business with lingerie and today we also manufacture sportswear. We have our manufacturing units in India, Mexico and China. MAS Holdings works with several international retailers such Victoria’s Secret, Marks & Spencer and Nike, for its sportswear range. MAS Holdings and Amanté are different entities. They have separate business functions and have been set up to build the portfolio of the brands. amanté has its manufacturing base in Sri Lanka. MAS Brands is hoping to achieve US$ 300 million business globally by 2020, across multiple brands and multiple outlets.
What are the countries you are present in?
From the manufacturing point of view, we are in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Bangladesh. Our design studios are located in New York, London and Hong Kong. Besides, we also have supply chain in China and Mexico.
What all categories do you manufacture?
In lingerie category we primarily manufacture the brassiere and briefs. We are quite big in swimwear category too. MAS Holdings is also into activewear and yogawear. In Amanté, in addition to lingerie we also we produce lifestylewear. We opened our fi rst EBO in Sri Lanka and it offers an elaborate range including swim-, yoga- and gymwear.
What is your manufacturing capacity?
I would say it is huge! We have 60,000 people working with us and MAS Holdings manufactures 150 million panties and 50 million brassieres annually. The work environment in all our plants is employee friendly. We have air-conditioned plants.
We provide all our staff with breakfast, subsidised lunch and transport. Our aim is to ensure that the work should come from within. People have been really important for us. We consider it as one of our most powerful tools.
Tell us about the demand of your products as per the different cities?
Delivering to an array of customers was one of our learnings too. In my view, India is like Europe; further divided in different countries. It is more conservative in the south but we are witnessing a shift in that front too. Apart from Chennai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru are emerging as cosmopolitan cities. This region gives us 20 percent of the business. While the north, including Delhi and Punjab is more vibrant and colourful. People are experimental in terms of colours and designs here; and they are more willing to spend. We can say that there is more vibrancy in the north. Moreover, it is one of our largest markets that gives us 40 percent of the business.
Likewise, the west is not so conservative but they are functional with a little element of fashion and elegance. The west and east regions account for 30 and 10 percent of the business, respectively. In terms of growing demand, metros and mini metros are doing well. In fact, tier-II and -III cities are really picking up.
What are the latest technologies you are using?
We have been using a lot of new technology in Sri Lanka but were cautious to introduce them to the Indian customers. The reason being, these technologies are expensive to put into the products. Also, the customers are not ready for it. Indian customers are price-sensitive, hence we put in basic technologies to begin with. For over a decade, we have learnt a lot on new technologies like sewing and bonding techniques, and we would like to introduce them to India by 2015. It will include different types of gels, push-ups and more.
You recently invested in the UK-based high-street lingerie brand Ultimo. What is your role in it?
Ultimo is founded by celebrity entrepreneur Michelle Mone and we are the major stakeholders of the brand; we own 51 percent stake in it. It is a cleavage-enhancing lingerie label with innovative use of silicone gel that caters to a different segment of women. We will be sharing the technologies that we have at MAS Holdings to enhance the brand. We will also introduce the brand in India soon.
Tell us about your investment and expansion plans.
We are looking forward to grow the portfolio of the brand and ensure that we are able to cover each segment in this category. Though it is an ambitious target, we are still looking forward to build this business of aspirational brands to US$ 100 million in India by 2020 through a robust supply chain, manufacturing excellence and design know-how.