‘We plan to open 50 Guess stores over the next five years’
Apparel and accessories brand Guess marked its reentry into the Indian market in July this year with a new store at DLF Mall in Delhi-NCR. Its distributor in India, Gaurik Lifestyle, is bullish about building its offline presence, with a target of 10 stores by the end of FY22. Manoj Nair talks to Vaishnavi Gupta about the company’s retail roadmap, the shift in consumers’ shopping preferences, and more.
Guess is betting big on large-format exclusive brand outlets (EBOs) in India. How lucrative is offline retail for the brand?
The market sentiment post-pandemic has been quite buoyant in the retail sector. We are continuously observing improvement in consumer demand after the second wave, which paves the way for our EBOs in the Indian market. The brick-and-mortar model has always been capital-intensive; it represents the face of our brand. We plan to delve into two formats of stores in India: first, a denim store, which will have all categories that Guess offers, and the other will be an accessory-exclusive store.
What’s your offline expansion plan looking like for India?
At present, our expansion will be focussed on the top-grossing malls in India. We will gradually approach micro-markets and introduce accessory stores, including key categories like handbags and watches, in smaller cities. We recently unveiled our first store at the DLF Mall of India, Noida, and will expand to markets like Mumbai and Pune in the coming months. We aim to open 10 stores by the end of this financial year across the country. Additionally, in the next five years, we plan to launch close to 50 stores, alongside an online presence of our own.
We are also looking at achieving the revenue mark of Rs 300 crore by 2026. Currently, our entire collection is imported from all over the world. However, we will start manufacturing and sourcing in India once our business expands.
How much sales do online platforms bring in?
We are present on e-commerce platforms like Tata CLiQ, Nykaa, Myntra and Ajio. Sixty per cent of our business sales are coming in from e-commerce channels. The omnichannel strategy has worked well for us, as consumers get a mix of both the offline and virtual experience.
How has shopping behaviour changed during the pandemic in the premium segment?
The pandemic has definitely brought about a steep downfall in the premium apparel and lifestyle industry, but the situation has been quite buoyant. Consumers are now indulging in revenge shopping, which is an opportunity for brands like ours to boost sales. Things are changing swiftly; the rebound post the second lockdown has been rapid.
The current state of fashion is comfort; comfortable, casual-aesthetic clothing is what consumers seek now. Accessories have become a favourite among new-age consumers, especially amongst our target audience. We are offering a variety of accessories including watches, sunglasses, jewellery, hats and belts.
What is Guess’s go-to-market strategy?
Considering that the expansion and scaling up of our stores will take some time, our approach to marketing for now is more channel and store oriented. We are presently engaging with digital consumers on different media — collaborating with influencers on social media, for instance. As we launch more stores, we will be looking into more regional and location-based marketing approaches. Our goal is to be present on all the relevant channels including wholesale, e-commerce, and retail.
Do you plan to diversify your product offerings in India?
Yes. We have relaunched Guess in the Indian market with a new Spring/Summer 2021 collection that consists of a range of denims, dresses, shoes, and more. A key part of this collection will be accessories and a wide range of handbags — from satchels to totes and backpacks to luggage bags.
The Indian market will see a new range of athleisure wear in our upcoming Fall/Winter 2021 collection. This collection is crafted to suit the work-from-home, multitasking environment. In the pre-Covid era, athleisure wear had zero penetration globally, but now this category represents 7% of our apparel sales. This growth has been observed due to a shift in consumer preferences towards fitness and comfort-driven apparel. They are now making designer fashion choices that are comfortable as well as stylish.