Established in 1998 as a part of the Tata Group, Trent Ltd. operates Westside, one of India’s largest and fastest growing chains of retail stores. Westside is a trendy departmental store, offering a one-stop shop for compelling yet aspirational fashion. The store stocks a broad range of products ranging from apparel, footwear, accessories to cosmetics and perfumes to home accessories and gifts amongst others. Exclusive brands are the essence of its customer proposition, especially under its own Westside banner. The chain offers predominantly an exclusive range of own branded fashion apparel alongside partner brands. Each Westside store presents international shopping ambience, superior merchandise at affordable prices and excellent service. Elegant and well-designed interiors, prime locations and coffee shops within, add to shoppers’ delight, making them a most sought-after fashion destination!
The chain currently has 88 stores measuring 8,000- 34,000 sq.ft. across 53 cities like Ahmedabad, Allahabad, Aurangabad, Bengaluru, Bareilly, Bhopal, Bilaspur, Chandigarh, Chennai, Coimbatore, Dehradun, Delhi-NCR, Goa, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Indore, Jabalpur, Jaipur, Jalandhar, Jammu, Kanpur, Kochi, Kolkata, Kurnool, Lucknow, Ludhiana, Mangalore, Mumbai, Mysore, Nagpur, Nashik, Pune, Raipur, Rajkot, Sangli, Siliguri, Surat, Trichy, Thrissur, Udaipur, Vadodara, Varanasi, Vijayawada, Vizag, etc.
The Westside store has several departments to meet the varied shopping needs of customers. While an exclusive range of own branded fashion apparel continues to be the mainstay of the chain, the Westside model involves active control all across the value chain including branding, sourcing, logistics, distribution, pricing, display and promotion of almost 90 percent of the product range retailed. It believes, this model is more robust than department store models that mostly retail third party brands including from a ‘return on capital employed’ perspective. Product sourcing capabilities and a global vendor base are key ingredients to Westside, delivering a desired merchandise range at the right price and time to customers. The company makes substantial investments in technology and upgradation of the supply chain network, which it believes is vital to the success of a retail organisation. This has enabled the company to significantly enhance the efficiency of its warehouse operations in recent years. Higher levels of efficiency were witnessed despite growing volumes in terms of both intake from vendors and dispatches to stores.
Westside products are known for style and class amongst fashion conscious consumers. In recent years, the chain has launched and refreshed a number of brands, available exclusively at Westside stores. These brands have been evolved to target key customer segments based on their needs, purchasing power and appetite for fashion. Customer response to the refreshed offerings has been encouraging and the intent is to continue investing on growing the exclusive brand portfolio. Some of the key brands in women’s wear segment are Bombay Paisley, Gia, L.O.V and Zuba. While, Bombay Paisley offers chic, western and contemporary ethnic wear for the experimental and vibrant youth, Gia offers a fashionable casual collection for the curvy women. L.O.V is a smart, casual, feminine offering for the 25-plus women and Zuba offers silk and handloom blends with handcrafted embroidery. Other noteworthy brands include Wardrobe, a trendy 9-to-9 fashion for women and Nuon, a young casual fashion brand.
In men’s wear, Westside has Ascot, a modern classic lifestyle brand for the discerning man, E.T.A, understated casual wear for contemporary men, and West Sport offers functional and stylish casual mens apparel.
In FY’15, the chain launched four new brands, exclusively available at Westside stores. It brought in Wunder Love, the chain’s in-house lingerie brand and Sassy Soda, Westside’s collection of trendy clothing designed for the curvier youth. StudioWest is an exclusive beauty zone at Westside, which has several leading beauty brands together with an exciting new range of Studio West cosmetics. Oak & Keel, a new fashion clothing line for the beefed up men too was launched.
Apart from this, Gourmet West and Lakeland are two relatively new areas Westside has ventured into, in the recent years. Gourmet West, its gourmet section, is currently operating from nine key Westside stores in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Surat, Ahmedabad and Baroda. With encouraging response seen in these stores, the company will continue to invest in the food segment.
In FY’14, the chain had introduced innovative kitchenware through an exclusive tie up with Lakeland – a British company famous for its creative kitchenware across the world. Currently there are three Lakeland stores across Pune and Bengaluru.
Westside aspires to deliver a uniform experience to all its customers irrespective of whichever store they walk into. During FY ‘15, the parent Trent continued to focus on a number of internal improvements in Westside. Apart from the launch and refreshing exclusive brands portfolio, other key initiatives included, improved presentation in stores, focus on select newer categories and providing a better shopping experience to the customers by improving the look and feel of select existing stores. In order to increase walk-ins and improve the customers’ shopping experience, it pursued the modernisation of some older stores and optimisation space allocation based on the category mix which have a better sales potential with a renewed effort to improve service. Aided by the strategies pursued and reasonably favourable market conditions, the format registered a healthy 11 percent like-for-like growth in revenues over the period. Operating efficiency has witnessed an improving trend in the recent years. The measures undertaken to reduce shrinkage level at stores, warehouse and distribution centres have yielded positive results. The chain would continue to emphasise on robust deployment of its operating model coupled with review rigour.
Westside’s parent Trent Ltd. acknowledges that in the years to come, online fashion retail play will get much bigger in India. With an aim to address this fast emerging market, and especially to enable the convenience of its customers seeking to shop it online, the company is working to launch Westside online as part of the Tata Group market place initiative. It believes this approach would provide the company adequate visibility and control in respect to various customer experience elements including pricing, omnichannel integration and range of offering.
The chain runs its own rewards program Clubwest, that has been designed exclusively for Westside regulars. The program has a base of over 2.5 million members and contributes to over 70 percent of the Westside sales. The loyalty program offers special privileges for classic and gold members, who earn reward points every time they shop, that can be redeemed during future purchases at Westside stores. It also extends exclusive offers, discounts, gifts and privileges from time to time across a range of lifestyle products and services besides privileges at stores. Clubwest cards are now accepted across all landmark stores. Moreover, the customers can also buy gift cards and e-gift cards for others.
Of late, Westside has increased its focus on using social media as an important customer listening and learning mechanism. A number of campaigns are carried out on Facebook and Twitter. The objective of these campaigns is to improve customer engagement and move beyond just fan generation. During FY ’15, power targeting was used to run customised campaigns for Clubwest members. This helped the chain in improving contribution from Clubwest members. The innovative usage of targeted communication methods helped it connect with its customers better, understand and act on their inputs. The average bill size registered an encouraging growth of 10 percent in FY 2015.
Westside’s marketing and communication strategy is focused on building its exclusive brands within the store, engaging with its strong loyalty base and connecting with customers on digital mediums. The company has undertaken significant investments in visual merchandizing to develop a signature visual representation for each of its key brands within the store. Westside also engages in focused communication with Clubwest, to drive awareness and consideration for its brands, with the focus of communications being its weekly product launches and consistent newness in store.
The way forward
The Indian market is being targeted by retailers from across the globe. In consequence, the share of organised retail is growing and is expected to accelerate further in the coming years, especially with respect to fashion apparel. Westside too is increasing its reach and expanding into newer cities. The chain continues to monitor opportunities in tier-II and III
markets and establishing presence in those markets as appropriate. Simultaneously, strategic properties in tier-I cities which fit into its overall growth plan are also being pursued. A team of in-house property experts supported by a well-defined set of processes for analysing the potential market and catchment help Westside identify strategic locations for new stores and make it profitable in a relatively short span of time.