Interview: VS Ganesh, CEO, Page Industries

By: |
September 24, 2021 6:46 AM

‘Non-innerwear contributes to one-third of revenue’

Last year, we expanded our presence by about 15,000 multi-brand outlets to reach 80,000 outletsLast year, we expanded our presence by about 15,000 multi-brand outlets to reach 80,000 outlets

Page Industries, the exclusive licensee for Jockey International, is on a mission to expand brand Jockey beyond innerwear, ranging from kids’ wear to women’s outerwear. VS Ganesh speaks to Venkata Susmita Biswas about this planned foray, demand from smaller markets, offline retail expansion, and more. Edited excerpts:

Considering the recent flood of brands in the athleisure category, how does Jockey stand apart? Has the demand for such products receded?

We have scaled up our outerwear business. Further, we are making our products more exciting by introducing innovations as per our pre-pandemic plans. In the midst of all the clutter, what works in our favour is brand recognition. We firmly believe that these are times when consumers will opt for trustworthy, mid-premium brands. Another factor that has aided growth is our control over the supply chain.

Demand has not dropped; two key reasons are driving sales — work from home continues, and we have acquired many new consumers since the pandemic. These customers are making repeat purchases. Expanding our distribution network has also helped.

By how much have you expanded Jockey’s footprint over the last year? Are you targetting small markets?

Last year, we expanded our presence by about 15,000 multi-brand outlets to reach 80,000 outlets. We are on track to hit one lakh MBOs very soon. We have a total of 980 EBOs now and will soon reach 1,000 EBOs. We are continuing to add about 200 exclusive brand outlets every year.

Our EBOs are more concentrated towards the metros, tier I and II cities, and state capitals.

The spread of our MBOs is equal across markets. That said, we are aggressive about our intent in tier III and tier IV markets because the response from these markets has been very good. We were lucky that we had 50% of our EBOs in malls and the rest on high streets. That strategy really helped us recover.

Before the pandemic, e-commerce used to account for 3% of our revenue. This has grown to 8% today. Now that buying habits have changed, many people will prefer to buy online. While I expect e-commerce sales to eventually drop, it is estimated to settle at around 6%.

Between innerwear, and apparel for men, women and children, which category drives sales?

Even though we are perceived as an innerwear brand, a lot of our revenue comes from outerwear and athleisure. Another growing category we recently entered is kids’ wear. It’s a comparatively new area; therefore, we are treating it like a start-up and growing the business. Jockey has a penetration of 18% in men’s innerwear. For women’s innerwear, it is around 6%. In men’s outerwear and women’s outerwear, we have a penetration of 5% and 4%, respectively. There is a lot of headroom to grow in these markets.

But Jockey isn’t traditionally known for women’s wear or kids’ wear…

We see a lot of potential in these two categories. For instance, the women’s innerwear market is worth Rs 33,000 crore which is 2.25 times more than the men’s market, which is around Rs 14,000 crore. Other than improving our products consistently, our distribution is much stronger than competing women’s innerwear brands.

In the past, our marketing initiatives were focussed on creating brand awareness. We are now building campaigns around women’s innerwear and athleisure. We have also established 40-45 exclusive showrooms for women and children only.

We revisit our MRPs every year to consistently maintain a 20-22% EBITDA. This helps us with our value for money proposition. In rupee terms, athleisure contributes more to revenue as those products are priced higher than innerwear. About one-third of our revenue comes from non-innerwear products.

Aren’t unbranded, cheaper products in smaller markets a huge problem?

We see that people are loyal to Jockey because of its quality and long shelf-life as compared to products that are cheaper by Rs 50 or Rs 100. We have a wide range of products across price points — like modern classic — which are comparatively cheaper than the premium range. So we have a portfolio of styles which can cater to everyone. We are also seeing good acceptance of the mid-premium and premium products in smaller markets.

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