A team of two brothers, Rajesh and Sushil Jaju, started their distribution business in 1992 under Basics Clothing, just after completing their college. Stencil was the first brand in their portfolio, and after a couple of years they added brands like Lee Cooper, Woodland and Reebok. Around then, Woodland had just introduced its apparel line. Gradually, the Jaju brothers expanded the brand’s portfolio and added Levi’s (1997), Flying Machine (2007), US Polo, Elle and Ed Hardy in 2014. They are the exclusive distributors for these brands in Delhi through MBO format. Apart from owning the distribution business, Basics Clothing has also launched a fashion label, Maverick introduced in 2007. Sushil Jaju, co-owner of Basics Clothing shares about the distribution business, major milestones and learnings of his brand.
Tell us about Basics Clothing.
Basics Clothing is a partnership-owned company. We have a network of 80 key accounts such as Chunmun, Snowhite, Ritu Wears, Bindals and Stanmax. Our warehouse and office are based in Naraina, Delhi, and spread over 6,000 sq.ft. And 2,000 sq.ft., respectively.
Since you and your brother are partners in the company, how do you balance the personal and professional relationships?
I believe, our personal bonding brings mutual understanding in our professional relationship. My brother takes care of the finances including payments from the brand, accounts and marketing matters. He also handles the brand profile and distribution of Levi’s. On the other hand, I take care of the distribution responsibilities and purchase for Elle, Ed Hardy, Flying Machine and US Polo.
We work in sync and discuss all professional matters, share our views and seek each other’s advice. However, we never intrude in each other’s space. We have been following a practice of discussing business every Monday from the past 22 years.
What are the top selling products in your region?
It varies from brand to brand. For Levi’s it is 80 percent denims; for US polo it is 70 percent tops and for Flying Machine it is 60 percent bottoms and 40 percent tops. In terms of top selling products, i would say it is collar and round neck t-shirts from US polo, and 35 percent round neck t-shirts and 60 percent collar t-shirts from Flying Machine.
Delhi is your distribution region. Do you plan to expand it further?
At the moment, I would say no because Delhi is a huge market and there is a lot of potential here. Retailers are expanding within the capital itself, for say, Chunmun has more than eight stores in Delhi. So, we will continue with our distribution business in Delhi rather than expanding to different cities.
Name a few cities that you see as emerging markets.
Apart from Delhi, I see Punjab as a growing market. Sector 17 market in Chandigarh is quite huge . Then there are malls, Elante Mall has recently opened in Chandigarh. I believe cities that are welcoming the mall culture have great opportunities. Take the example of Rajasthan; there are many malls opening up there but the city lacks that culture. Other than that, Guwahati in the North East is doing quite well.
You are working with quite a few prominent retailers. Do you distribute different product portfolio as per the retailer?
Before making bookings for two seasons – summer and winter, we show the presentations to retailers and accordingly they pick the designs. Then we combine the demand and book the stocks. Mostly, the order remains 60-65 percent common among all the retailers, and we generally do not take orders in less quantity.
Apart from handling the distribution business for brands and retailers, what other services do you provide?
We work as a bridge between the retailers and the brands. As a distributor we collect feedback for the brands in terms of trends, designs, styles and colours. For instance, this season jackets and sweatshirts will do great as compared to sweaters and pullovers. Each city has different demands and set of audiences. Hence, for brands it is important to know and understand their audience. Our feedback help brands to de?ne their market, for example, fashion in Vasant Kunj will be different from Rajouri Garden; people in Pitampura will have different preferences as compared to customers in Karol Bagh. For retailers, we do our best to meet their requirements like extra order and quick supply. We promise retailers to provide the supply within 24 hours. Our commitment with retailers is always our priority. Being a distributor, we also share retailer’s feedback with the brands such as special promotional schemes and festive offers.
There are major Financial risks involved in this business. How do you plan to tackle them?
We are in this business for more than two decades now. We share cordial relations with most of the retailers; it feels like family now. Fortunately, we haven’t faced any issues as such; we receive the payments within 60 days or 90 days, in case of market slowdown.
E-commerce is emerging as a big trend. Do you think it is a threat to the distribution business?
There is no second thought that e-retailing is doing amazing! Yes, it may emerge as a big threat to our business in the upcoming years but not at the moment. This is because most of the brands are not showcasing the entire collection online. There are only a few styles and designs available on the e-commerce websites. Customers still visit stores to check out the entire collections from the brands. They are buying shoes and accessories online but for categories like t-shirts and tops, they prefer going to the physical stores. E-commerce is not a threat till the time brands are not revealing the entire collection online.
What are your expansion plans for this ?scal?
This ?scal we are targeting at `crore sales. In fact, we have launched our own retail store in Dwarka that is retailing the kidswear range from US Polo and Elle. We also plan to open 8-10 stores in Delhi and NCR.
What are the professional lessons you have learnt in this business?
I would say growing too fast and too slow harms the business. Extra buying does not help in gaining any pro?t. Booking the right products in relevant time and securing quantity and in right placement is essential.