Neeru’s, one of India’s leading fashion wear brands doesn’t require any introduction. The brand founded by Late Harish Kumar in 1971 has always aimed to bring superior tailoring, embroidery and intricate designs to the forefront of every collection they have been bringing to the customers.
The brand exclusively deals with exquisite bridal knery, formal outfits, daily cottons and much more. Neeru’s currently has stores across 20 cities in India along with an international flagship store in Dubai. The other major landmark achievement for Neeru’s has been two flagship exclusive stores at Jubilee Hills and Banjara Hills, which has an area of 25,000 sq. ft each with plush interiors, state of the art store designs, elevations with latest technologies and wide range of ethnic wear range from all parts of the country.
The stores cater an exclusive range from a `1000 Kurta to a `5 lakh lehenga. Under the leadership of Avnish Kumar, the brand has reached new heights, and has collaborated with the ‘shop in shop’ concept with leading large formats like Centrals, Lifestyle, Shoppers Stop Avantra by trends, LuLu Mall and more.
Today, Neeru’s total POS including large formats and EBO’s count stand at over 130.
In an exclusive interaction with Indiaretailing, Avnish Kumar, CMD, Neeru’s talks about the brand journey, highlighting the key achievements and initiatives during the pandemic.
How has the brand grown in the last 3 years, despite the pandemic?
Neeru’s has always revamped the face of retail in the state of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Infact, we are known for marking streets by entering and being the first one to open. The famous streets of Somajiguda and Banjara Hills Road No 1 in Hyderabad were face lifted due to the opening of Neeru’s store.
When Neerus opened its flagship store in Jubilee Hills Road No 36, in 2012, we were the first retailer on that street and today after a decade, it is the most valued retail high street in Hyderabad.
Tell us about the opportunities and bottlenecks for your industry in this region?
Andhra Pradesh / Telangana has a stable and supportive government that has been instrumental in developing business-friendly policies. With the increasing support from the government and focused efforts by large integrated and private players, we are expecting to lure significant global tie-ups.
The main bottlenecks in these regions are the rise in the prices of raw materials and uneven regional developments in the form of manpower.
Tell us about the learnings and changes which you had to implement due to the pandemic?
The pandemic gave us time to pause, rethink, reanalyse and strategise our approach to the business going forward.
In our case, we have come out of irritant properties and have re-signed better retail spaces for a better Prok t and Loss (PnL). We have succeeded in the above and in many cases relocation of our stores helped in better performances. In the same period, we entered new markets.
and stores which had high profitabilities like Khammam, Warangal, Coimbatore and a few more. We have also chosen a franchise route to expand which seemed less CapEx, heavy and an easier way to reach deeper markets.
Has your brand/stores returned to normalcy in terms of business and footfalls?
The markets have shown growth , especially the 3rd Quarter of 2021-22, the festival and marriage seasons saw huge growth and numbers even exceeding 2019. People were positive and all occasions were celebrated with great spirits. We are hoping the same for the rest of the quarters from now on, as the COVID cases are going down.
Have you introduced any new categories this year?
We are also concentrating a lot on the price ranges of `1999-6999 in sarees and readymade suits. Also, we have strongly added the ‘Fusion wear category’ in overall as many Millennial are adapting towards this comfort ethnic wear which looks trendy with lighter embroideries and a quirky look.
What are the technology advancements that you have made in the previous year?
In the current time, digital marketing has become a necessity. Social media, Influencer marketing is an internal part of digital marketing today. Taking the Omnichannel route and implementing strategies for new market presence are some of the initiatives done by Neeru’s in recent times.
What new technologies are you bringing in, in the next one year?
Blockchain: A great tool for transparency and efficiency in the supply chain, making it easier for all parties involved to exchange data and documents securely.
Power BI: This will make a reporting(Data) system more defined.
Omnichannel: Connecting consumer throughout various shopping platforms
Virtual Reality: One of the most popular uses of VR in fashion is a technology that allows customers to try on clothes virtually, though it can even go so far as to create a VR version of a whole store.
Mobile commerce: Creating a portal web will make it much easier for our fashion brands to connect with consumers, so we’re bound to see even more of this in the future.
Virtual Influencers (Celebrities): In the last five years, social media Influencers have become more and more popular.
Today, one can find thousands of Influencers working with fashion brands to advertise clothes to their followers, and it’s a very effective marketing technique.
Have you introduced any innovative in-store experiences to enhance customer experience?
We are planning to introduce applications of AI within fashion including being able to enhance customer experiences, analyse and predict trends, understand buying patterns, and even understand fashion aesthetics. One example of this is touchscreens in retail stores
that offer customized product advice to customers using AI chat technology. AI can be trained to understand aesthetics, including colour, texture, and style preferences.
Do you have an Omnichannel strategy? If yes, please elaborate.
Neeru’s has always pioneered in its sector with collaborations and through digital, we are getting at a new way to expand. We have teamed with LuLu, Landmark Group, Future Group, Reliance, and more to increase our ‘Shop-n-Shop’ set up and expand the number of stores with them. With the new era of digitalization, we have been tying up with various online channel partners and marketplaces like Myntra, Ajio, Amazon, Flipkart, TataCliq, Nykaa and more and recreating our website.
We are planning to merge our offline platforms with online and make a new ecosystem format.
Apart from this, we are also entering into franchising format aggressively to expand in an offline way.
What are your expansion plans?
We have plans of taking the store count higher with EBO’s, SIS and online. The motive is to target locations which give good brand visibility. We will be giving importance to the Omnichannel model to enhance the visibility of the designs and stocks overall and the concept of store warehousing will take place. Expansion through the franchise route is widely
on the cards and we have plans to enter markets which are cash rich metros or
Tier II & III cities.