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Paving Fashion’s Future Through Innovation and Loyalty

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Rajiv Nair, CEO, Celio Future Fashion talks to gurbir singh gulati about the future business plans for this quintessential brand in India.

In an increasingly competitive market, finding a niche in fashion has become highly signifi cant. Celio as a brand has defined an exclusive trend in fashion and is quickly becoming one of the most preferred brands in the menswear category in India.

A European menswear brand, Celio is present across 1,000 stores in 60 countries. It presents the latest in international fashion in India through a range of smart casualwear, formalwear and accessories. Decoding trends to offer men masculine, accessible and relaxed fashion have been the key assets of the brand. Celio showcases collections oriented to the different moments of a man’s life.

The Celio range is available across all the leading cities in India through network of EBOs and MBOs. The brand offers a strong loyalty programme in India, called ‘Celio Fantastic Rewards’ programme. This is a unique mobile app based programme which offers consumers rewards on purchases along with rewards for interacting with the brand on social media platforms.

Tell us about Celio’s current retail standing and its future expansion plans.

Celio is currently present in 41 standalone stores and in 128 shop-in-shops and also features in some of the prominent e-commerce websites.

We have recently launched two stores (Forum Mall, Mangalore and Hyderabad). Both the properties are well positioned. We also have the Acropolis Mall, Kolkata, which will be our first store in this city and which is scheduled to be launched by December 2014. Further to this we are in talks with South City Mall, Kolkata as they are planning an expansion and renovation of their space in the next six months’ time. We have been committed some space. Apart from this we have a decent shop-in-shop business in Kolkata with presence in Shoppers Stop, Pantaloons, etc., which are doing well.

For the future we are looking at expansion through our own stores. We also plan to expand in the east of India. Currently, we are working with a departmental store based out of Assam called Sohum, and in future we are looking for distribution opportunities in the east.

In Gujarat, Celio is in talks for setting up distribution. We have plans for Uttar Pradesh as well, where we have identified Lucknow as a potential city. We would look at both distribution and our own stores, which may be in the franchisee route. We are looking at some high street opportunities for expansion through the franchisee route.

We still have to work hard in new markets. Our expertise as a brand is largely distribution, product and marketing support wherein we are looking at good partners who could probably do some 4–5 stores per partner and expand in 5–6 regions with us.  So we are also looking at expansion in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka while any other territory we think would be difficult to explore on our own, will be dealt through the franchisee route.

Tell us about your franchise model?

Celio has its franchise model in place. The only difference is that although we are a domestic manufacturer, we are not a domestically planned brand. So unlike what happens wherein brands look at franchisee and plan collection which they like, we at Celio do whatever is planned at the brand. But yes we are open to adding a bit of fl avour based on markets we are present in. We can customise something for the franchisee but it would be impossible to customise the whole brand for the local market.

For taking Celio’s brand franchisee, one needs to invest approximately Rs 2,200 – Rs 3,500 per sq.ft. We are looking at stores with an area of 1,200-1,500 sq.ft. And if we come across a fantastic space, it can even go to maximum of 2,000 sq.ft.

Tell us about your product expansion plans and how you plan to position it.

We are expanding in new product categories. The denim contribution in our store has grown from a mere fi ve percent to 14 percent now. We believe that denim as a category can be explored further. Incidentally, the no.1 selling brand in France for denims is Celio. The brand sells a lot of basic denims in France, which we cannot do in India presently.

Our focus in India will be largely on fashion denims. Celio already has two fits which are working for the Indian market. We will expand a bit more on the fi ts where we are undergoing some study. Our goal is to achieve 14-15 percent sales through denims. We have a good line of accessories, which we have stopped doing in India as it was not yielding us good results. But there are some core accessories like socks, boxer shorts, etc. And others which can generate volumes; so those we will definitely do. We are getting into leather belts in our stores.

Celio is already strong in scarves and hats, but unfortunately India has limited demand for such products. We had cut down on accessories but we think we will bring it back just for  flavour and showcasing our complete brand identity in India. Our t-shirts have improved dramatically. We have our 25 percent business coming in only from the t-shirts category.

There has been a huge shift in designing t-shirts, with their being more scope for infusing fashion in them. There are also lots of new fabrics to work with. Celio has been an innovator in t-shirts and our products like cold pigment dyed t-shirts have stood as a challenge to our competitors. So if you look at t-shirts, polos and shirts, we are defi nitely a tough competition to some of our direct international competitors. Denims and  accessories are in the process of becoming stronger.

Celio is very strong in cargos and bermudas. Chino is a category which we are  developing, wherein we are keeping a lot of core products in our range. We house plenty of check shirts which are in line with the localised fashion in India. Linen continues to be a big draw for us not only in summers but in winters too. We have developed a very good range of outerwear (jackets) for the northern and south-western markets. We have also done some sweaters, which makes the Celio winterwear line very significant in the market.

Tell us about your loyalty program.

We have around one lakh loyal customers with Celio in India. Our next step is to offer more customisation with our loyalty programmes. Our next year’s target is to segregate this database of loyal customers and sharpen its focus towards the brand. There is a mix of customers who come to us. One is customers who are style and fashion seekers.

The other is a purely value seeker. There are others people who are experience seekers, who come only during an activity or an event wherein we need to do something for this customer. We do something called a men’s week internationally, which we intend to extend to India where we have one-and-a-half week of clearance sale post Diwali to clear off the early season merchandise. This is only for our loyalty programme customers.

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