Rajesh Jain’s signature quote sums up his approach to business leadership succinctly and emphatically. “Top Line, Bottom Line, Growth, Customer Delight and Human Resource Development. Everything else is merely incidental.”
Jain’s clearly stated mission – growth as opposed to category leadership – has shaped Lacoste India into a lifestyle brand, with a remarkable growth of 100 per cent in the last three years, despite a global economic slowdown. A Masters in Commerce from the University of Delhi and a Chartered Accountant from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, Jain obtained his Company Secretary degree from the Institute of Company Secretaries of India.
Prior to his position as CEO, Rajesh has served Lacoste India as CFO for three years where his responsibilities included supervising the financial risks of the corporation, designing and implementing systems and processes across the board and empowering people to execute them, supply chain, IT, sourcing and legal functions.
Jain’s inclination towards the retail industry was not a mere milestone, but an opportunity to adapt to an industry that is characterised by change.
“Retail’s ever-changing demands and varied preferences help me to justify my position as an ethical and process oriented leader who can experiment and take calculated risks,” he says.
Since being appointed MD and CEO in 2009, Jain believes his biggest achievement has been able to put together a great team of committed colleagues to drive the brand’s growth. “In the last four years, we have doubled the number of points of sale directly with internal accruals and debt funds only, selling one Lacoste product every two minutes!” he points out.
Jain’s transformational initiatives began with binding the entire Lacoste India family — right from the factory workers to the back-end corporate team to the front-end sales force who ultimately help in conversion, for a single mission.
“This was a huge challenge, but we overcame it through training sessions, offsite interactions, social gatherings and by Boutique Day — a unique concept wherein on one day of a month, each corporate team member (disguised as sales staff) personally attends to customers in the boutique to understand their TG and strategise their KRAs,” he explains.
Referring to his mission at the company, Jain outlines the business target in no uncertain terms. “Lacoste India’s vision has been — and is still — to maintain ‘constant’ growth, not compromising ever on quality and performance. We do not pursue goals like ‘being leader in our category’ as it reflects complacency post reaching a place and goal,” he says.
Jain believes there is no single approach to retailing success; retailers must be prepared to constantly monitor macro and micro elements of the business.
“To achieve full potential, Indian retailers must focus on operational expansion and sustainability strategies, scrutinised and evaluated retail planning, back-end excellence and robust technology, as well as front-end servicing of customers post sales.”