Inditex to launch Bershka and Zara Home in India this year

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April 15, 2024

Sagar Malviya, Economic Times
Mumbai, 15 April 2024

Spanish fashion company Inditex said it will launch youth clothing brand Bershka and Zara Home in India this year.

“Bershka will open its first store in Mumbai Palladium, and Zara Home will open in Bangalore,” it said in its latest annual report.

Inditex had launched fast fashion brand Zara in 2010 and premium clothing brand Massimo Dutti eight years ago. Its new offering, Bershka, will pitch it directly against Reliance Retail’s Yousta, which too targets the younger consumer segment.

Being the world’s second most-populous country, India is an attractive market for apparel brands, especially with youngsters increasingly embracing Western-style clothing. Fast fashion brands such as Zara and H&M became runaway successes soon after they entered the country.

Experts said Bershka’s target consumer profile is mostly teens to mid-20s, slightly younger than that of Zara, which is pitched at 20-40-year-old fashion-driven customers.

“The product assortment is different, with a higher share of knits, fewer dresses and more casual overall compared to Zara, keeping in line with the lifestyles of the customer group. So in that sense it wouldn’t cannibalise Zara in any serious way, though some of the younger set among Zara buyers could migrate some of their purchases to Bershka,” said Devangshu Dutta, founder of retail consulting firm Third Eyesight. “The biggest question is, can they hit the price points that young Indian fashion consumers want as with domestic brands such as Zudio, Yousta and others, or will consumers overlook higher prices for the style mix and a European brand pull in significant numbers to make the brand viable.”

According to a recent report by Motilal Oswal, the ₹2.5 lakh crore value fashion segment accounts for 57% of the total apparel market and is one of the largest and fastest-growing segments. A substantial untapped opportunity beyond the metros and tier-1 cities, driven by better demographics, higher incomes and greater customer aspiration, has compelled several big players to enter a market that was previously dominated by regional and local operators.

Since its inception in 2016-17, Zudio has seen considerable expansion and reached nearly 400 standalone stores, outpacing most apparel brands primarily due to its competitively priced products with an average selling price of ₹300. Following the success of Zudio, a unit of the Tata Group’s Trent, the segment has seen the entry of national retailers in the affordable youth clothing segment such as Yousta by Reliance Retail, Style-Up by Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail and Shoppers Stop’s InTune.

(Published in Economic Times)

Reliance Industries in talks to bring British fashion retailer Primark to India

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February 29, 2024

Sagar Malviya & Faizan Haidar, Economic Times

New Delhi, 28 February 2024

Reliance is in exploratory talks with British fashion retailer Primark to bring the label to India, a move that will pit it against Tata’s Zudio, Landmark Group-owned Max and Shoppers Stop’s new value format InTune.

The 55-year-old brand, popular for its moderately priced clothing and shoes, has been evaluating the Indian market for the past few years and may partner Reliance through the joint venture or licensing route, said two people aware of the development.

Most of their stores will be on the high street due to its big box format, unlike other global retailers, which prioritise malls, the executives added.

Primark has been a successful value-priced retailer and its global revenue has exploded in the last few years, aside from two Covid-hit years. Average prices are even cheaper than retailers such as H&M and Uniqlo. While China is the largest source country for Primark, India is second in the number of small to large factories that supply the company. Nearshoring is already embedded in Primark’s supply chain strategy, and it can deliver goods from Indian suppliers directly to a local retail unit for cost control and flexibility while being responsive to local market needs.

As the largest retailer in India and with its portfolio of multiple international brand partnerships, Reliance can provide a significant edge with real estate and operational synergies, said Devangshu Dutta, founder of retail consulting firm Third Eyesight.

“India is an obvious growth market choice for large brands and retailers such as Primark,” he said. “In the end, though, it will come down to how effective the merchandise and the marketing is in connecting with the diverse needs of Indian consumers across the country.”

Primark is owned by London-listed Associated British Foods and has over 400 stores globally with a stated ambition to expand across new and existing markets to reach 530 outlets by the end of 2026. In the lower-priced segment, Reliance has Trends and recently launched fashion and lifestyle store Yousta, which competes directly with fast-fashion brands Zara and H&M in India. Reliance currently has over 18,774 stores-these include supermarkets as well as electronics, jewellery and apparel outlets. It has also either partnered with or acquired over 80 global brands for local sales.

Reliance didn’t respond to queries. A Primark spokesperson said, “As a growing international business, we’re always open to new opportunities. However, we don’t comment on speculation about where we might expand to next.”

Experts said India’s consumption structure has been skewed in the past over a narrow base of richer consumers accounting for a large chunk of market. However, now the opportunity for value-brands is expanding.

(Published in Economic Times)

10th Year Of Festive Season Sales: 5 Trends That Will Define Clash Of Amazon, Flipkart, Meesho & Cos This Year

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October 7, 2023

Gargi Sarkar, Inc42

7 Oct 2023

The Indian ecommerce industry anticipates a stronger festive season compared to last year with over 20% sales growth, driven by the D2C segment’s expected 40% QoQ surge

The overlap of festive celebrations and wedding seasons, particularly with a later Diwali this year, is predicted to further stimulate demand

Despite the evident purchase intent, retailers are preparing for a possibly neutral festive season as economic challenges may hit consumers’ spending

As the festive season rings in its 10th anniversary in the ecommerce realm, giants like Flipkart and Amazon are prepping for their annual mega sales, set to begin on October 8. This year, however, they will face tough competition from newer players, including Meesho, which carved out a significant slice of the festive sales pie last year.

With new entrants like Tata Neu and JioMart, and fashion and lifestyle ecommerce players such as Myntra, Nykaa, and AJIO, the stage seems to be set for a fierce showdown.

For these ecommerce platforms, the annual festive sales aren’t merely about revenue generation; they’re pivotal customer engagement and acquisition opportunities. These events lure consumers with compelling discounts and promotions, giving a considerable boost to their yearly sales targets.

Through strategic marketing blitzes, they also aim to amplify brand recognition and glean insights into shopper preferences. Following last year’s subdued festivities, market analysts have predicted a revival in shoppers’ enthusiasm this year, forecasting a robust 20% surge in sales.

The festive season this year is set to witness a remarkable upswing in the ecommerce sector’s gross merchandise value (GMV). According to consulting firm Redseer, the GMV is anticipated to see an 18-20% surge, amounting to INR 90,000 Cr, a leap from INR 76,000 Cr in the previous year.

“The preceding quarter (April to June) witnessed a subdued performance in both offline and online retail sectors, primarily due to persistent inflationary pressures. However, the scenario is expected to undergo a transformation during the upcoming festive season. Festive periods tend to unleash latent consumer demand, prompting individuals to open their wallets more liberally,” Ashish Dhir, EVP (consumer and retail) of business consulting and services firm 1Lattice said.

There is a growing focus on electronics and appliances as traditional categories of interest. However, fashion and beauty are also emerging as important categories. The emergence of luxury goods is another important segment, which will likely make waves during the upcoming festive sales.

The ecommerce industry anticipates a stronger festive season compared to last year with over 20% sales growth, driven by the D2C segment’s expected 40% quarter-over-quarter (Q0Q) surge. However, average user spending is likely to remain flat.

Further, Tier III cities and beyond are becoming key revenue contributors, particularly in the fashion and beauty categories. Although consumer sentiment has improved, retailers are wary that buyers could maintain a cautious stance when it comes to spending lavishly.

While there is much to look forward to, let’s delve deeper into what shoppers and retailers can expect from this milestone year, which marks 10 years of festive sales fervour in the Indian ecommerce space.

D2C Brands To Lead The Charge

Notably, the Indian market is projected to have 500 Mn+ online shoppers by 2030, growing at 12% compound annual growth rate from 205 Mn in 2022, according to a 2020 report.

As far as the upcoming quarter is concerned, industry experts forecast that the homegrown ecommerce sector will likely see impressive growth of over 20%.

Playing a pivotal role in this escalation will be the D2C segment, predicted to grow more than 40% QoQ from October to December. Established ecommerce giants like Amazon, Flipkart and Meesho could also be looking at an approximate 30% uptick in sales, according to experts.

Tracing back to the inaugural ecommerce festive sales in 2014, the industry’s GMV was recorded at INR 27,000 Cr. Fast forward to 2023, the GMV is poised to touch an impressive INR 5,25,000 Cr, a nearly 20-fold increase, per a RedSeer report.

Festive Ecommerce OffersAverage User Spending Could Remain Muted

Despite the rise in GMV in 2022 compared to 2021, average expenditure per shopper held steady at INR 5,200 during the initial four days of the festive season sale, according to a RedSeer report.

This year doesn’t seem poised for a significant spike in individual user spending either. However, there is a silver lining in the form of rising consumer activity in smaller towns and cities. On the flip side, elevated living costs in metropolises like Bengaluru and Mumbai could dent extravagant consumer spending, noted Devangshu Dutta, the founder and CEO of Third Eyesight, a boutique management consulting firm.

Yet, with the growing online shopper populace in these cities, there’s potential for the average order value (AoV) to reduce as more users flock online to shop.

“As the online shopping base continues to expand, the average spending per user naturally tends to decrease. This phenomenon occurs as more people venture into ecommerce, with platforms like Amazon and Flipkart extending their reach to cover a broader audience. However, it’s essential to note that this drop in the average ticket size is a common trend when the customer base expands,” Sangeeta Verma, director of digiCart India said.

Consumers Sentiment Positive, But Retailers Remain Realistic

With the waning impact of inflation, India is witnessing a positive shift in consumer sentiment from the previous year. Unlike several developed nations wrestling with inflation, India has remained largely untouched by its dual impact on demand and supply, experts suggest.

For example, Flipkart delivered strong gross merchandise value (GMV) and sales growth in the company’s second quarter of the financial year 2023-24 (FY24), Walmart’s chief financial officer John David Rainey said during an earnings call.

“In India, the distinguishing factor in terms of festive demand is that it’s not merely brand-driven; consumers here are eager to spend, and the purchase intent is notably high. Unlike some developed economies grappling with inflationary concerns, both the demand and supply sides in India have not seen any impact of inflation. The consumer demand continues to stay buoyant,” Chirag Tanjeja, cofounder and CEO of GoKwik said.

The overlap of festive celebrations and wedding seasons, particularly with a later Diwali this year, is predicted to further stimulate demand, 1Lattice’s Dhir added.

Nevertheless, a note of caution reverberates among retailers. Despite the evident purchase intent, retailers are preparing for a possibly neutral festive season as economic challenges may hit consumers’ spending.

However, a recent study conducted by Nielsen Media India and commissioned by Amazon India says otherwise. According to the report, 81% of consumers are enthusiastic about shopping during the upcoming festive season. More importantly, this positive sentiment towards online shopping is not limited to metropolitan areas but Tier II and III cities and towns.

Ecommerce Platforms Ramp Up Efforts To Woo Sellers

In this year’s festive season, a standout trend is ecommerce giants’ intensified drive to court and captivate sellers with multiple strategic offerings like enticing commission rates, equipping them with advanced selling tools, enhancing the overall selling experience, and broadening their outreach.

Recently, ecommerce heavyweight Meesho made its platform accessible to non-GST registered sellers too. Not too behind in the race is Amazon India, which unveiled its multi-channel fulfilment (MCF) last month for D2C brands and retailers. This initiative is expected to aid sellers in managing customer orders from diverse channels.

Meanwhile, Flipkart flaunted its impressive seller growth, citing a tally surpassing 1.4 Mn — a notable 27% jump since 2022. Meesho currently has a seller base of 1.3 Mn and Amazon has over 1.2 Mn sellers.

Echoing the seller-side optimism, digiCart’s Verma said, “As a seller, we hold a very bullish sentiment. We’re so confident that we started stocking up well in advance. The robust build-up is evident from the current numbers. Mature sellers will expand into existing and new categories after.”

A recent survey by Redseer revealed that sellers are projecting a 15% increase in festive sales year-on-year. Even though the recent sales momentum on ecommerce platforms has been somewhat subdued — with only 40% of those surveyed reporting a 10% quarterly hike — there’s palpable enthusiasm for a significant festive sales boost across a multitude of product sectors.

Who Will Drive The Festive Ecommerce Growth?

Tier II and III cities and towns are expected to be the biggest contributors in this year’s festive season sales. According to experts, customers from these cities and towns are keen on giving their wardrobes and beauty kits a festive makeover. Although Tier I cities are spoilt for choice with numerous offline stores, spanning both legacy and contemporary brands, such luxuries are scarce in smaller cities.

However, this is steadily changing now. Some of the prominent D2C brands that have emerged from the country’s Tier II & III towns and cities are Raipur-based Drools, Mohali-based Lahori, Kanpur-based Phool, Coimbatore-based Juicy Chemistry, just to name a few.

Furthermore, consumer demand in the eastern regions of the country, along with enhanced connectivity in the Northeast, is also on the rise. Semi-urban and rural areas are fast emerging as the driving force behind the new wave of ecommerce growth, a trend expected to be pronounced during the festive season.

Considering that a whopping 65% of India’s populace resides in rural regions, the untapped ecommerce potential is immense, according to the Economic Survey 2022-23.

Yet, fostering trust will be paramount. Residents in these regions typically bank on word-of-mouth endorsements and recommendations from local retailers when exploring new products and brands. This is expected to give local D2C brands a much-needed boost in the upcoming festive season.
What’s Beyond The Festive Sale Fervour

As festive trends leave their mark in the ecommerce landscape, we’re likely to witness several transformative strategies. Central to this evolution will be Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) schemes. Yet, the traditional cash-on-delivery remains a preferred choice for many.

Ecommerce brands are increasingly prioritising customer retention, recognising that fostering enduring relationships offers more value. This shift is evident in the rise of loyalty programmes.

Notably, Flipkart introduced “Flipkart VIP” – a direct competitor to Amazon’s Prime – right before the festive sales kickoff. Simultaneously, Meesho debuted a loyalty initiative, targeting both customers and sellers.

Apart from the dominant themes, a few other noteworthy trends are slated to redefine the festive shopping narrative. Black Friday, for instance, is set for a revamp. Gen Z’s influence, especially their propensity to favour specific brands, will be significant.

Last year, for D2C brands, the Black Friday event overshadowed the traditional Diwali and Dusshera festivals in sales figures. GoKwik data indicates that brands on their platform saw a staggering 63% rise in GMV during the Black Friday sale, contrasting starkly with the 10-day Diwali sales.

Also, Christmas, too, is evolving. The allure of winter holidays and modern gifting practices are propelling this transformation, turning Christmas into a significant commercial event.

Given that the final leg of 2023 (October to December) will host almost all the major Indian festivals, the ecommerce players are in for a treat. Even though there will be a lot of cut-throat competition among ecommerce players, there will be no dearth of opportunities for them to woo customers who are eager to splurge to add more flavours to their festive celebrations this year. Going ahead, we will keep a close eye on the ecommerce players and D2C brands that will emerge triumphant after the great Indian festive showdown.

(Published in Inc42)

Outlet malls: new centre for discount sale by big brands

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August 28, 2023

Bindu D. Menon, Financial Express

August 28, 2023

Calvin Klein, Levi’s, Adidas and Lacoste are among the several players who are looking to tap the potential of Outlet malls, which are generally located on the peripheries of cities and major highways. These malls are fast replacing the old factory outlets of major brands, which were located in the cities in crowded places.

Real estate developers are also strategically choosing such locations to attract a wider customer base. Value-driven customers are thronging to such malls as it offers branded products at a discounted price ranging from 30-70%.

A few companies FE spoke to said Outlet malls are refined version of factory outlets and companies are able to generate revenue by liquidating stocks at a lower price.

Outlet Malls are a concept popular in the international market and are a huge hit among travellers. They are typically large group of shops outside city periphery that sell apparel, shoes and luggage at a discounted price. In the last decade, Outlet malls have sprung all over the country especially adjoining highways.

In New Delhi’s Jasola district, Pacific Premium, real estate firm has opened premium shopping space. Pacific Group operates around six malls spread across Delhi and Dehradun. Its new premium outlet mall is its largest to date and has four storeys and sizeable parking area.

The mall houses aspirational brands such as Birkenstock, Tommy Hilfiger, CalvinKlein, Levi’s, Adidas, Madame, Lacoste, Vero Moda and American Eagle among others. Other leading brands such as Nykaa and CaratLane, too have signed lease for occupying mall space.

Players like Village Groupe are developing mixed use development space in off location like Khapoli on Mumbai-Pune highway, Ludhiana and even Jaipur highway. A company disclosure says that it is developing over 500,000 sq feet mixed use space off-city limits.

“Outlet malls are a great opportunity for consumers who want to get the touch and feel experience. To that they offer brands at a discounted price is huge attraction for consumers,” said Susil S Dungarwal, promoter, Beyond Squarefeet Advisory, a mall management advisory firm.

Asked if online companies will pose a challenge to Outlet malls, Dungarwal says that there is no competition. “Outlet malls are an impulse destination. A consumer may be travelling along a highway, a good mall with discounted brands will be sure shot attraction,” he said adding growth in private vehicles has given a shot in the arm to Outlet malls.

“Till mid 1990s only 20% of vehicles on highways were private vehicles (cars and buses) and the rest were commercial vehicles (trucks and lorries). However, in 2023, almost 60% of the vehicles on highways are private vehicles,” he said.

Devangshu Dutta, Founder, Third Eyesight, said, “Outlet (discount) stores sit at the confluence of a mutual need. Branded chains with excess inventory to liquidate which they don’t want to carry at their primary stores, and consumers who want lower prices for their purchases”.

He points that outlet malls can offer brands some of the same advantages as regular malls, in terms of acting as footfall magnets, and offer shared services, but at lower costs due to a cheaper location.

“Rather than creating their own standalone outlet stores, brands can take up spaces in an outlet mall. The challenge of maintaining and managing footfall is shifted to the mall. However, as with regular malls, outlet malls need to be located well and need to be also managed well,” he added.

According to consultancy firm Anarock, top cities have over 51 million sq feet of mall stocks across the country with Delhi-NCR, Mumbai Metropolitan Region and Bengaluru accounting for 62% of the total stock.

(Published in Financial Express)

Fast and furious

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August 11, 2023

Christina Moniz, Financial Express

August 11, 2023

Pizza chain Domino’s recently unveiled a Rs. 49 pizza, its cheapest anywhere in the world. At $0.60, the pizza chain’s seven-inch cheese pizza is priced far lower than Domino’s in China (where $3.80 is the cheapest option). As per media reports, the rising inflation has caused Jubilant FoodWorks, which runs Domino’s outlets in India, to see a 70% slide in profits in the first quarter of CY23.

Competitor Pizza Hut has launched its Flavour Fun range, offering 12 new pizzas in five different sauce flavours, starting at a price of Rs. 79, which is easy on the pocket, especially targeted at young consumers. “We further stabilise costs by rolling out value deals from time to time such as 1 Plus 1 (two personal pizzas at Rs. 299 each), a Hut Treat Box for four starting at Rs. 799 and My Box deals starting at Rs. 229 for solo consumption. While food inflation is projected to persist, QSR brands must demonstrate agility and innovation in their offerings to effectively engage with customers,” says Merrill Pereyra, managing director, Pizza Hut India Subcontinent. Despite the competitive nature of the QSR market, he remarks that the rising purchasing power of consumers opens up promising opportunities for brands to expand.

Get the drift?

Crisil says the cost of a vegetarian thali rose 28% in July on the back of high tomato, onion and other raw material prices. With consumers also cutting back on eating out and discretionary spends, brands are bending over backwards to serve offerings at attractive prices to drive up footfalls .

Other fast food chains in the country too are rolling out value meals and snacks to appeal to price-conscious consumers. Burger King India announced its latest value range of ‘Tasty Meals’ starting at Rs. 99 to encourage dine-in consumers, while KFC too has unveiled its snacker range, featuring its most popular offerings like the classic chicken roll and chicken popcorn, at Rs. 99. McDonald’s India (West and South) also recently unveiled a campaign showcasing its easy-on-the-pocket McSaver meals at Rs. 179. McDonald’s India (North and East) made headlines with its decision to temporarily drop tomatoes from their products due to quality concerns and supply shortage.

This is just the second quarter of the current fiscal, but Devangshu Dutta, CEO, Third Eyesight, observes that the trend among QSR brands is to absorb costs or reduce expenses rather than raise prices and risk a drop in footfalls. Most brands are hoping to keep consumer demand up and make up for the loss in margins in the second half of the financial year.

That would be a 1% hit on margins on account of inflation, say experts.

Pramod Damodaran, CEO, Wagh Bakri Tea Lounge, has a slightly different take. Noting that food input cost is just one cost item for a QSR brand, he says that most companies make gross margins of over 60% on each order. These margins are without taking into account costs of labour, rent, etc. “The new price points are designed to drive more walk-ins and new customers. The menu is vast enough to get consumers to eventually spend more after they walk in. Customers often buy a small burger but that is not a substantial meal and so they need to buy fries or other sides, which have higher margins. Most QSR chains find a way to pass on the inflation-added cost to the customer,” says Damodaran. For example, he says, if the inflation rate is at 5% this year, restaurants may increase the price of certain items on the menu by 3% for the first six months and by another 3-4% in the next six months, thus covering the additional input cost.

Focus on efficiency

The fact that brands have launched affordable, lower-priced offerings may have landed them in a slightly tricky situation, says Rajat Tuli, partner, Kearney. “The value offerings at lower prices have encouraged trials and new customer walk-ins, but existing customers are also opting for these. That has resulted in a lower average ticket size, while the cost to serve stays the same. Order volumes have grown but average order values have stayed the same or reduced, which could be a challenge if the trend continues,” he points out, though he adds that gross margins in the current quarter have shown improvement over the last quarter. Fast food chains need to bring in more efficiencies in cost, streamline processes and introduce more digitalisation.

It is also something that McDonald’s India (West & South) is working towards, says MD Saurabh Kalra. Noting that inflation is not new to the company in India, Kalra explains, “Recognising that food inflation is a domestic truth, over the years, we have developed tools and strategies to manage it effectively. This is attributed to our strategic management of our supply chain and product mix, as well as our cost initiatives. We have been successful in managing our costs and in maintaining healthy margins.” Further, with the reality of global warming, there will be pressures on agricultural output.

Kalra argues that enhancing efficiency and adoption of new technology are the only ways to create long-term solutions, something that McDonald’s has been doing globally too.

(Published in Financial Express)