Finding right space and rentals a major challenge

Written by Mona Mehta | Updated: Oct 21 2009, 05:26am hrs
Allen Solly, originating from the large portfolio of international brands of Coats Viyella, UK, has grown in India as a casual lifestyle brand with over 30 product categories in bright colours and patterns through Madura Garments Lifestyle Brands and Retail Division. R Satyajit, chief operating officer, Allen Solly spoke to FEs Mona Mehta on meeting new challenges in the Indian retail scenario, retail expansion plans and plans to tie-up with strategic partners such as manufacturers and designers mainly from Europe to increase innovations. Excerpts:

What are the retail expansion plans of Allen Solly

Since last two years, Allen Solly has focused strongly on spurring its casual wear brand image. We currently operate the bulk of 53 Allen Solly exclusive stores, where more than half of the stores can be found in various malls. As for retail expansion, we are planning to increase the footprint to additional 15 to 20 stores in metros and tier-II cities. The area size of retail stores would vary from 800 to 1,000 sq ft for a smaller store and goes up to 5,000 to 6,000 sq ft for a bigger store. The average size of an Allen Solly retail store is 1,800 to 2,000 sq ft. We aim to double the network every two years. Besides, Allen Solly, alongwith Louis Philippe and Van Heusen brands, is retailed through 100 Planet Fashion stores, a multi-brand retail format, apart from about 70 to 80 department stores and 300 other multi-brand stores in India.

What are the various challenges being faced by Allen Solly in the Indian retail space How is the company planning to overcome them

Finding the right space, right rentals with less apparel retailers is a major challenge. Due to availability of many international brands in causal wear, it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract more customers. In order to overcome them, we are investing heavily in marketing, advertising and on training staff. Besides, we will continue to upgrade our strategies to provide better quality service to consumers with regards to apparel alteration, helping consumers finding the right casual dress code combination suitable for office and party. Most importantly, Allen Solly is in the process of tying up with strategic partners such as manufacturers, designers and mills, mainly from Europe, to increase innovations.

What are the evolving trends in branded apparel retailing in India in sync with the global market

Growing branded casual wear is the emerging trend in the branded apparel retailing. As a result, the segment has started witnessing constraint on the supply side. Hence, since the past 6 to 8 months, Allen Solly has been meeting customers and store operators in order to provide them with varied options and varieties in casual space. Now is the time when brand expression needs to be updated, which we are actively focusing these days.

Tell us about the sales growth of Allen Solly. Has the company witnessed amidst organised branded retail revival growth in India

Allen Sollys advertising to sales ratio has grown from single-digit during the third quarter of the financial year 2008-09 to double-digits in the second quarter of the current financial year. We are investing heavily on marketing and advertising of new arrivals at Allen Solly store aimed for the festive season. Allen Solly is running an online campaign called My World, My Way and promotions, Your Holiday, Your Way which is taking off well in terms of enquiries and sales.

What are the new trends in pricing branded casual wear vis--vis formal wear in the country

We may foresee some correction in prices depending on the growing demand for branded casual wear in the country. We feel that the demand for branded casual wear will grow further to the current growth rate of 15%, whereas, the demand for branded formal wear, which is currently growing at the rate of 11%, will grow, but less than the casual wear market growth.