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Manish Kapoor’s Journey Fashioning Success in Retail

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R S Roy
R S Roy
R S Roy is the editorial advisor at IMAGES Group

From Jaunpur to Jakarta, Meerut to Melbourne, and Shillong to Singapore, Manish Kapoor, Managing Director and CEO of Pepe Jeans London, has traversed across geographies, leaving an indelible mark of excellence in the fashion industry. His journey epitomizes success and innovation, driving brands to new heights of achievement….

Bengaluru: Manish Kapoor, the managing director and chief executive officer of Pepe Jeans London has worked across geographies—from Jaunpur in UP to Jakarta, Meerut to Melbourne and Shillong to Singapore.

Hailing from the quaint town of Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh, Manish holds a deep-rooted connection to the renowned ‘Indian Middle Class,’ a driving force behind India’s consumption and retail surge.

Early starter

After losing his father at the tender age of six, he was raised by his grandparents. His journey began by assisting his aunt in her boutique business, igniting his fervour for fashion and retail from a young age.

After completing his education, which includes a B.Tech in Textile Technology from Technological Institute of Textiles and Science and a PG in Apparel Marketing and Merchandising Management from the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Manish embarked on his career journey.

Beginning as a product manager, he soon recognized the criticality of retail, particularly focusing on the environment and delivery aspects. This realization dawned upon him as early as 2003, a time when retailers grappled with the dilemma of selling fashion denim, which couldn’t simply be folded and stored away in the traditional retail infrastructure of that era.

He then progressed to working with leading companies in fashion retail, learning the ropes and scaling new heights.

Growth Graph

Throughout his career, Manish achieved remarkable milestones and gained invaluable insights in various organizations and business areas.

At Future Group’s Big Bazaar, Manish was part of the team that launched the chain’s largest store at Lower Parel. His interactions with Kishor Biyani enlightened him on the significance of ‘Stock Turns’ and ‘Margin per unit’, crucial factors in retail success.

During his tenure at Madura Garments, specifically with SF Jeans, Manish spearheaded the launch of a fashion denim brand from scratch. This experience emphasized the importance of building a brand from the ground up, understanding retail environments and channels, and navigating complex matrix structures.

Transitioning to Benetton, Manish made significant contributions across different zones and business areas. In South and West India, he elevated the zone turnover contribution from 17% to 39%, realizing the impact of seasonality and the importance of product mix. In North and East India, he excelled in revenue generation from large stores, managed key partners, and expanded business in the eastern region from 5% to 15%. These experiences honed his skills in partner management, understanding big store dynamics, and recognizing the untapped potential of certain regions.

Within Benetton’s Kidswear division, Manish built a highly successful business, attributing its success to global design sensibilities, localized product adaptations, and efficient India sourcing practices. Additionally, in the Department Stores segment, Manish identified and developed a robust business opportunity, emphasizing the importance of inventory management and brand staff engagement.

Manish’s role in the Outlet Business at Benetton underscored the significance of building a profitable means to liquidate aged inventory while efficiently managing working capital. His involvement with Sisley and e-commerce showcased his ability to identify and capitalize on potential business opportunities within existing consumer segments.

At Brand Marketing India, Manish demonstrated his prowess in growing businesses, evident in his achievements with French Connection and Calvin Klein Jeans. He navigated global competition, drove necessary changes, developed local product lines, and effectively managed working capital.

Finally, as part of Pepe Jeans’ India Business Unit, Manish’s tenure as Director Sales saw substantial growth, transitioning the brand to the premium segment, launching successful kidswear lines, and achieving significant market positioning. As CEO, he shifted the organization’s focus to being consumer-centric, embraced rapid digitization, improved the balance sheet, and utilized the pandemic as an opportunity for transformative change and sustainable growth.

Throughout his career, Manish learned the importance of direct-to-consumer strategies, effective balance sheet management, cash generation, and the intricacies of change management in driving sustainable and profitable growth in the retail sector.

Success Mantras

Manish attributes his success to several key factors:

  • Consumer-centric approach: Recognizing consumers as value seekers, valuing product quality, brand reputation, and the retail environment over mere price.
  • Standardized retail environment: Aligning retail delivery with brand ideology while adapting to local preferences.
  • Attention to detail: Constantly striving to learn, improve, and maintain high standards.
  • Team building: Leading by example, fostering a culture of hands-on involvement, training, motivation, and growth.
  • Leadership style: Balancing transactional and transformational leadership methods.
  • Family support: Acknowledging his wife’s pivotal role in balancing family responsibilities, allowing him to focus on his career with peace of mind.

Today, under his expert stewardship Pepe Jeans London is growing from strength to strength in India’s dynamic and highly competitive denim wear and casual market. Today, the company retails from over 200 exclusive outlets and 1700 touchpoints. It gets 25% revenue from digital channels and it had a projected revenue of Rs750 crore in the financial year 2024-2025. The company plans to open over 40 stores this year.

Manish will share his insights about Accelerating Retail at Scale at the upcoming Phygital Retail Convention (PRC).

Join him as he discusses trends and strategies with industry peers and learn from his expertise and experience.

Stay tuned for more updates about speakers at PRC 2024!

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