Day 2 at the Images Fashion Forum 2006 (IFF ’06) was a series of CEO meetings that focused on fashion retail segments like clothing, footwear, sportswear, jewelry, watches, ethnic fashion, designer wear, home furnishings, accessories and luxury retail.
The day commenced with a discussion on home fashion led by Alok Banerjee, Head Domestic Business, Bombay Dyeing. The panelists in this discussion were Srinath Sridhar from Welspun Retail; Rajiv Merchant, CEO, Portico New York (India); Arif Sheikh, Head Home Centre, Lifestyle; Vinay Gupta, Chief Home Furnishings, Home Solutions, Pantaloons; C.K.Nair, Head HomeStop, Shoppers’ Stop; and Inderjeet S Wadhwa, Chairman, Seasons Furnishings.
Banerjee said, “18 per cent share of ‘wallets’ comes from home fashion and it now features among the top ten in the country. There is an evident change in the consumer mindset, but no major brands are available in the domestic market.”
Arif Sheikh believed that rooms today were designed very differently from what they were earlier and since the home was a reflection of changing lifestyles, consumers were looking for solutions under one roof.
Aditya Nadkarni, Category Head-Ladies, Piramyd, led a panel discussion on Ethnic Wear. This session had expert industry speakers comprising Arup Datta, co-founder and MD, Khadder; Vijay Mishra, CEO, W; Sanjay Bindra, Executive Director, Biba; Manish Saksena, Buyer, Lifestyle; and Gopal Asthana, Ethnic Wear Buyer, Shoppers’ Stop.
Issues such as fusion fashion being the buzzword for ethnic wear in India and mix and match as a popular concept in India were discussed in this session.
The next sessions were on clothing and footwear where leading industry leaders raised questions whether India was ready to shell out Rs 40,000 for a pair of shoes? Is location of prime importance in apparel retail?
Speakers in the footwear session were Subhinder Singh, MD, Reebok India; Killick Sudeepto Dutta, Chairman and CEO, GBMI; Inder Dev Singh Musafir, Director, M&B; Shankar G, MD, Lifestyle; Rafiq Mallik, MD, Metro; Jaswant Singh, CEO, Sierra International; Vijay Chauhan, Director Sales, Adidas; and Adarsh Gupta, COO, Liberty.
Killick Sudeepto Dutta plans to officially launch international brands in India in August’06 said, “European and the US markets are saturated and there is tremendous growth opportunity in countries like India and China.”
Inder Dev Singh Musafir (owner of ID shoes and licensee of Lee Cooper) said, “The challenge of handling international brands is treating them as your own brand. As a company there should be no conflict or confusion about this as you take on the responsibility of building a particular brand and marketing it also.”
Chauhan focused on the blurring line between fashion and sports. According to Chauhan, since the core of Adidas lay in performance, the company invested in technology; efficient supply chains, customer services and retail operation and if a brand is devoid of these core elements it cannot be termed fashionable.
Commenting on a shift in consumer’s purchasing behavior, Jaswant Singh said, “Customers are gradually moving from need based purchasing to want based purchasing.”
The apparel industry was represented by Hem Chandra Javeri, President, Madura Garments; G. Shrikhande, COO, Shoppers’ Stop; Shreyas Joshi, President, Group Apparel, Raymond Ltd.; Chetan Shah, Country Head, Pepe India; Reetika Dalal, CEO, Daks India; Shumone Chaterjee, MD, Levis India; Chitranjan Dar, CEO, ITC (LBRD); Gagan Singh, MD, Benetton India; and R. K. Dalmia, President, Century.
Jhaveri said, “Opportunities in apparel market are huge in India, and fashion brands are more in demand. These days multi-channel distribution is the key mantra for brand expansion in India and this is likely to continue.”
Gagan Singh said, “Though we have repositioned our brand, yet our key focus remains ‘fashion’. Risk taking and decision-making abilities are the two major management concepts which make a lot of difference to our outcome”.
Chetan Shah said, “In this era of retail revolution, our focus is more on fashion and increasing the number of brand conscious customers. We have little option but to constantly keep launching new ranges and collections every season. Besides innovation, media expenditure is also an element in successful brand building.”
The jewelry session was chaired by CK Venkataraman, COO Tanishq and speakers in this session were Vinay Jain, CEO Orra; Mahesh Rao, MD Carbon; Annagh Desai, CEO, D’damas; Prasad Kapre, Director, DTC (Debeers); Mehul Shah, President, Nirvana; and Prabir Chatterjee, MD Adora. Key topics discussed included integral aspects of jewelry branding and retailing.
Venkataraman said “The Indian jewellery industry was in the recent past dominated by gold but is now witnessing the advent of diamond jewellery.” Rao said, “At Carbon it is not just the jewellery but the design (of products and processes) which is of foremost importance. We look at the tangibles and the intangibles and address them through designs. Our main aim is to take jewellery from the vault to the wardrobe.”
The discussion at the watch seminar was led by Mr. Bijou Kurein, COO, Titan with panelists Y. Saboo, MD, Kamla Dials & Devices; Manoj Dhanwani, MD, Megan Impex; Biren Vaidya, MD, Egana India; Asok Minawalla, MD, Pallazio; Manisha Sanghani, Priority Marketing; Sandeep Kulhai, General Manager Retail, Titan; and Ravi Dhahran, Group Director-South Asia, LVMH.
Sanghani said, “For the initial three years in this industry, it was smooth sailing but since 2004-05 it has become a challenge as competition has increased due to new brands entering the market. The challenge for us today is to stick to core values and give customers what he wants because price is not an issue with them”.
Ravi Thakran Group Director- South Asia, LVMH Group and Ashish Chordia, CEO, Thanks had a session on luxury retail. Thakran said, “ For developing luxury retail in India, it is extremely important to open up the market completely and adopt best supply chain strategies. The micros and macros of retail have to be in place and we must take care of right tenancy and ambience right from the start.” Chordia said, “ Luxury brands are not just about tangibles but also about intangibles. Besides the product, the experience that customers have is also important.”
The last two sessions were on designer fashion and fashion accessories. Speakers in designer fashion were Praful Makwana, Buyer, Buzz and Shoppers’ Stop; Pradeep Hirani, MD, Kimaya; Sanjeev Wadhwani, MD, Tuscan Verve; and prominent designers Raghavendra Rathore, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Suneet Varma, Anita Dongre and Narendra Kumar.
The session on fashion accessories was led by Jaydeep Shetty, Chief- CRM and Lifestyle Retailing, Pantaloon Retail and had Harsh Chopra, MD, Rayban India; Sanjay Kapoor, MD, Satya Paul; Kunal R Sachdev, CEO, Hidesign; Vinay Nadkarni, CEO, Globus; Arcahan Gupta, Director, Touch Stone; R K Jain, MD, Bonjour; and Rajat Bhatia, VP, Bentley.
Commenting on IFF ’06, its spokesperson Meher Castelino said, “The IFF in the six years of its existence has been responsible in identifying growth areas, crossing barriers, creating new markets, satisfying classes as well as reaching out to the masses and bringing a synergy between the fashion and retail industry in India.”
Castelino added, “With India making an impact on the global fashion scenario, IFF ’06 has turned into one of the biggest and comprehensive meeting grounds for the Indian and foreign companies that will take India onto an economic growth path in the future.”