From looking after the merchandising of Puducherry’s first departmental store, Casablanca, to starting the garment division of popular Indian brand Hidesign and finally founding her own company – Ayesha Accessories – German-born Jacqueline Kapur has come a long way.
The idea for Ayesha Accessories took root back in the ’90s when she was travelling to source material for Titanic, a garment outlet in Puducherry that houses European styles at affordable prices. During her travels, she found interesting and funky styles of accessories across India. Her merchandising trips helped her understand and identify jewellery and artefacts market in India. The seed grew and Ayesha Accessories was formed.
Her decision to start Ayesha Accessories – the company is named after her daughter, Ayesha – was not an emotional one. Instead, she realized that there was no organised retail market for accessories in India, and she saw potential in the space.
The brand – which offers quirky, trendy accessories for both men and women – was created keeping the young, experimental, and contemporary youth of India in mind. It operates out of 62 MBOs (Multi Brand Outlets) and EBOs (Exclusive Brand Outlets) currently. It’s exclusive line for men is called Unknown By Ayesha.
In an exclusive tête-à-tête with Indiaretailing Bureau, Co-founder & President Ayesha Accessories, Jacqueline Kapur, reveals that the company is currently in expansion mode with plans of shop-in-shop in collaboration with Shoppers Stop and Central, a digital strategy in the making, and enhancing its men’s collection…
How do you perceive India as a fashion accessories market?
Fashion accessories have a big future in India. It is a country with a very young population and women and young girls love to accessorise. Jewellery in India has always been an important part of a woman’s wardrobe. The big difference now is that it is not anymore only gold and traditional Jewellery. Fashion accessories have finally been accepted and are even trendy now, so there is a big scope for this market.
Where do you prefer to open stores – malls or high streets? Why? What is your location strategy?
We have opened most of our shops in malls simply because of the high footfalls of young customers. Fashion jewellery is an impulse buy, an entertainment event, something you do when you stroll around. India’s high streets are either occupied with a lot of unorganised retailers or you need a car to get to individual stores. However, in smaller cities like Panjim and Guwahati, we are present in individual stores.
Your stores that are located in malls – are they on rent or on revenue sharing basis?
Most of our stores work on a revenue share model with a minimum guarantee.
What is the average size of your stores?
Our stores are between 250 to 450 sq ft.
Are all stores company owned or franchise?
Except for two, all stores are company owned.
Is Ayesha Accessories a self-funded venture or do you have external investors? If you have external investors, when is the next round of funding taking place?
Ayesha Accessories is a fully self-funded company. We are still to explore the possibility of an external investor.
What is the idea behind coming up with a separate line for men and what are the sales target expected from the men’s line?
We started our men’s line ‘Unknown’ years ago. We were probably a bit early … men have started to accessorise only recently in India. And Unknown is the only brand which offers a wide range of super cool products to achieve that hero look!
What is your market strategy?
I want to offer my customers a range of products which are as fashionable globally as a similar brand would be in New York, Berlin, Paris or Tokyo. And that then at prices which are affordable for the young people of India.
What are your sales target for this year?
We hope to achieve Rs 20-25 crore business this financial year.
What are your same store sales growth numbers?
We have been steadily growing over the last five years. The average store shows a like to like a growth of 20-30 per cent. Our biggest growth this year came from an expansion in our MBOs like Central and Shoppers Stop. We are doing great there!