Venture Capital in Retail – What Attracts Investors to Retail Business (VIDEO)

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February 15, 2024

An insightful must-watch discussion, moderated by Devangshu Dutta (Founder, Third Eyesight), with venture capital fund managers, investors and entrepreneurs in retail on what factors attract investors to retail businesses.

The panelists included Vikram Gupta (Founder & Managing Partner, IvyCap Ventures), Amar Nagaram, (Co-Founder, Virgio), and Vikram Gawande (Vice President, Growth, Blume Ventures).

Titan’s Taneira shrugs off Covid blues to shake up saree market

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October 11, 2022

SHARLEEN D’SOUZA, Business Standard
Mumbai, 10 October 2022

In early 1994, Titan started selling watches with precious stones in them and called this new line, Tanishq. It went on to become a separate division of Titan Company and grew into the country’s largest branded jewellery outfit, helping raise Titan’s sales to ~28,799 crore last financial year.

Thirteen years later, in 2007, Titan Eye+ set out to shake up the eyewear market. Though it also sells sunglasses of other brands, it is the prescription segment that Titan redefined and now, according to its website, has 550 Eye+ exclusive stores in 229 cities.

In 2017, Titan sought to do an encore in yet another large market in which the demand, as in jewellery and eyewear, was almost recession-proof and largely commoditised, leaving ample space for a pan-Indian branded chain. Thus was born Taneira, with an avowed intent to become the country’s largest organised saree retailer.

“Titan had earlier tried to organise the jewellery market through Tanishq, which is successful, and this is an attempt by Titan to organise the saree market,” Ambuj Narayan, chief executive officer (CEO) of Taneira, told Business Standard.

What is unsaid is that jewellery to sarees can also be seen as a horizontal brand extension, the two do go together on occasion.

Natural extension

The Indian wear market is a 5,000-year old segment estimated to be worth ₹50,000 crore a year and growing at a compound annual growth rate of 6 to 8 per cent. Sarees account for 80 to 85 per cent of its sales, with kurta sets, blouses, and lehengas comprising the rest. Yet, despite the size and growth, there is hardly any nationally known brand in this segment, with Nalli Silks being one of the notable exceptions.

Titan insiders say the company believed sarees to be a natural extension for it, given its past success with design-led lifestyle brands. They say the company organised an internal competition to see who came up with the best expansion strategy.

The result is a bouquet of design-differentiated products — primarily sarees and kurta sets — made from pure natural fabrics sourced from all over India. The company put together more than 100 craft clusters representing the diverse weaves. These include the Banarasi sarees from Uttar Pradesh, Kanjivaram from Tamil Nadu, Chanderi and Maheshwari from Madhya Pradesh, and Jamdani from West Bengal. The output is a mix of contemporary ethnic wear for women across life stages and occasions — college, office wear, party wear, festivals, and weddings, with bridal sarees being the speciality. The prices range from ₹1,000 to ₹2,00,000.

“The Tata group’s ventures have always been consistent with their approach — they stay the course beyond initial hiccups and eventually scale up the business. This is very much how Titan and Tanishq worked their way from initial struggles to eventually scale and become nationwide brands,” said retail expert Devangshu Dutta, CEO at Third Eyesight.

To say that Taneira has had initial hiccups would be an understatement. Three years after its launch, the Covid-induced lockdowns and restrictions brought the entire retail sector down to its knees.

Baptism by Covid

“Pandemic restrictions and high Covid-19 anxiety among the people kept socialising and weddings at a very low level of activity over the past couple of years. For Taneira, being a nascent brand with a yet-to-be-established customer base, the operating environment has been particularly tough,” Titan Company said in its FY22 annual report.

Taneira used this time to realign its strategy of connecting with customers. Thus, during 2021-22, which braved the second Covid wave in its first quarter — the dreadful Delta — and saw the third wave creep into its fourth quarter, sales at Titan’s Indian dress wear division grew by 55 per cent.

Narayan, the CEO, attributes this growth to initiatives that included staying close to the customer through e-commerce. “We really drove e-commerce out and reached out to our customers through video calling and try-at-home activities,” he said.

As consumer sentiment started to improve, Taneira already had two collections ready — wedding weave and the summer collection — which boosted sales. During 2021-22, it also increased its store count to 20 by adding six more. During the fourth quarter, Taneira sales rose 4 per cent.

Today, there are 27 Taneira stores in 11 cities across India. It plans to expand to Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities in the first phase and then to Tier 3 in the second phase of its store expansion.

However, Vishal Gutka, vice-president of research (consumer and retail sector) at Phillip Capital, said: “Taneira follows the same principle Titan used for Tanishq, where it entered an unorganised category and expanded it. But it is still early days to gauge how Taneira will pan out. Also, the company needs to give more clarity on the unit economics of each store.”

Weaving an expansion plan Titan’s annual report talks of a robust expansion plan for Taneira this financial year: “We plan to grow at an exponential rate and make our store count around 60 by the end of the current fiscal year and open overseas stores in markets having an Indian diaspora such as the US.” It adds that Taneira will become a more significant contributor to the overall revenue of Titan in the medium term.

At the heart of this grand ambition lies the humble weaver. Taneira now has close to 1,200 dedicated looms and has a programme called Weaver Shala to support them with technical expertise and in modernising their facilities. It has introduced frame looms along with basic workspace facilities for the weavers in collaboration with the localised weaver-led organisations.

The brand has closely worked with the weavers in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, and Champa, Chhattisgarh, and aims to take Weaver Shala to other parts of the country.

Taneira leverages Tanishq’s brand strength; mannequins at Tanishq stores, for instance, are dressed in Taneira sarees.

However, Narayan said Taneira and Tanishq will not be sold under the same roof because Titan wants to establish Taneira as a distinct brand in its own right.

(Published in the Business Standard)

What Is Behind Reliance Retail’s Expansion Spree

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July 8, 2022

Akash Podishetty & Krishna Veera Vanamali, Business Standard

New Delhi, 8 July 2022

India’s $900 billion retail market has emerged as one of the most dynamic industries and is expected to reach anywhere between $1.3-$1.5 trillion by 2025. The organized retail is seen gaining 15% market share in the overall retail space, while food & grocery and apparel and lifestyle may account for 80% of India’s retail market by 2025.

Large market offers big opportunities. And it looks like Reliance Retail has seized it, with its massive omni-channel retail play of physical stores, B2B with kiranas and e-commerce.

The company went on an acquisition spree and partnerships in the last three years, adding to its portfolio some of the biggest names, including Hamleys, Dunzo, Zivame etc.

It has also partnered with famous global retail chain 7-Eleven. Catering to India’s affluent consumers, Reliance, meanwhile, houses some of the most iconic brands such as Versace, Armani Exchange, GAP, GAS, Jimmy Choo, Michael Kors among others. The premium segment has become one of the fastest growing categories.

Also firming up its inorganic play, the company is planning to acquire dozens of niche local consumer brands to build a formidable consumer goods business.

Arvind Singhal, Chairman and Managing Director, Technopak Advisors says, there’s focus on physical retail expansion. Reliance is looking to cater to both price conscious and brand conscious customers, while trying to capture as much of the private consumption market as possible, he says.

Reliance Retail’s competitors are nowhere close to even put up a fight. The company has over 15,000 offline stores across categories, compared with DMart’s 294 stores or Aditya Birla Fashion’s 3,468 outlets.

Reliance retail’s revenue has grown five times in the last five years and the core retail revenue of $18 billion is greater than competitors combined, according to a Bernstein report.

Speaking to Business Standard, Devangshu Dutta, CEO, Third Eyesight, says, Reliance wants a decent share of Indian consumers’ wallet. From that perspective, Reliance still has a long way to go, he says. As consumer preferences evolve, Reliance too should adapt.

An undisputed leader in the domestic market, the aim of Reliance, according to Mukesh Ambani, is to become one of the top 10 retailers globally. Part of this bet is based on the premise that incomes and consumption power of Indians will increase across the board in coming years. However, could the uneven recovery that different segments of the population have seen stop the pie from growing larger and prove to be a dampener for Ambani’s ambitions?

(Published in Business Standard)

ColorPlus, Park Avenue could be on the block due to pandemic

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April 24, 2022

Written By Christina Moniz

Brand and marketing experts, while expressing surprise at the development, as the two labels enjoy significant brand equity, also noted that if true, it highlights the challenges faced by legacy brands, with international brands growing their footprint in the country.

Apparel and textile major Raymond may be in the midst of talks to sell its prized apparel brands Park Avenue and ColorPlus, amid rising speculation about the future of the company’s apparel business. As per media reports, the company is in talks with Danish retail group Bestseller — which houses labels such as Jack & Jones, Vero Moda and Only — for the sale, seeking a valuation of around Rs 500 crore for ColorPlus, and even more for Park Avenue.

Brand and marketing experts, while expressing surprise at the development, as the two labels enjoy significant brand equity, also noted that if true, it highlights the challenges faced by legacy brands, with international brands growing their footprint in the country. Also, legacy brands, especially in the formal wear category, have been facing headwinds ever since the pandemic led to a work-from-home culture.

However, Sunil Kataria, the newly-appointed CEO of lifestyle business for Raymond, told FE these reports are “speculative”, stating that both Park Avenue and ColorPlus currently account for close to 50% of the company’s apparel business. In September last year, the board had approved the demerger of Raymond’s apparel business, which, at that time, was being managed by a 100% subsidiary of Raymond Ltd, Raymond Apparels, explains Kataria. The demerger covers all of the company’s ‘power brands’ — Park Avenue, Raymond Ready to Wear, ColorPlus and Parx.

“We want to double our apparel business revenues in the next three years. We ended up doing business of over Rs 300 crore in Q3 FY22, even at a time when the Covid-19 impact was still there, and that is the clearest proof that the sale of our brands is not on the cards,” asserts Kataria. The company also claims to have plans to further expand its retail footprint for Park Avenue, ColorPlus and even the newly-launched Ethnix brand. Kataria is betting big on the upcoming wedding season and the resurgence of travel in the next few months to drive growth.

Raymond currently has a retail footprint of close to 1,500 stores across 600 cities, of which 300 or so are exclusive outlets for brands like Park Avenue, Parx and ColorPlus.

For Samit Sinha, founder & MD, Alchemist Brand Consulting, said the reports of the sale of these two labels are surprising since both enjoy significant brand equity. “For a long time, Raymond and Park Avenue have been inextricably linked. Independent of its marketing performance, Raymond as a brand continues to hold great aspirational value and still holds its own despite the presence of big international labels,” he remarked, noting that the reported `500-crore valuation would be much below what the brand could command.

On the flip side, the speculation about the sale of these brands also highlights the new reality facing legacy brands in the retail segment — particularly in the formal wear category, with ‘work from home’ eclipsing professional lives. Offline-heavy Raymond has been no exception, with its business being impacted by the pandemic and the consumer shift to online shopping, observes business strategist Lloyd Mathias. “Apparel retailing is a competitive space, and many international brands have been increasing their retail footprint in India. These global companies with deep pockets will continue to grow in size and scale, and penetrate into smaller towns and cities,” points out Mathias. This means that brands like Park Avenue and ColorPlus will face serious challenges in sustaining their growth.

Interestingly, over the last three years, Raymond has increased its footprint in Tier III and IV markets as a part of its growth strategy. Devangshu Dutta, CEO of retail consultancy Third Eyesight, states that when a brand seeks to widen its presence in smaller markets, it is usually because it is facing headwinds in terms of growth, or because there is saturation in demand from the big markets, on account of the large number of international labels entering the country. “The challenge in smaller cities, though, is that the sales density you can achieve is also much lower as compared to the larger ones. You have to have an operation that is growing in terms of topline while also running efficiently to make this kind of expansion strategy successful,” Dutta explains.

Raymond’s Kataria adds that the company will continue to invest in these smaller markets and leverage its current brand equity.

Source: financialexpress

5 Pieces of Advice to Young Professionals Entering the Fashion Industry

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May 27, 2019

(The following is the video and the text of the Commencement Speech by Devangshu Dutta, chief executive of Third Eyesight, at the Convocation of the batch graduating in 2019 from the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Patna, India.)

I would like to just share a few learnings from my own career. I hope some of these learnings will provide you some food for thought, and if they stick, I hope they prove valuable to you in some way in your own career.

I think as a graduate of a professional institute, there are 5 life-skills or attributes or pieces of advice that could be useful to you.

  1. Approach work in an integrative manner, not distributive: As you enter the industry, you will find that there is a tendency to specialize. Entry level roles are functionally specific. As an individual you need to make a special effort to not lose the larger perspective. As you grow in your career you will find that an ability to connect the dots and show others the bigger picture will be a more valuable skill than you can imagine today. So, if you are a designer, as about a hundred of you present here are, please spend time and effort understanding the intricacies of manufacturing, the nuances of marketing and the thrust of business development. If you are a merchandiser or a technologist, please make time to expose yourself to art, music, cinema – what might seem to you as entertainment (or even a waste of time) today will go a long way in preparing you for leadership roles, because you will be able to not only understand your own function but understand what makes the other parts of the organisation tick.
  2. Be available to others: No matter what work you do, it is never in isolation and depends on support of your colleagues and peers, within and outside the organisation. By making yourself available to others – whether to help in a professional situation or personal – you lay the foundations for relationships that will support you through your career and your life in ways that you cannot anticipate or plan. All professional success is built on foundations laid by others. The best way to express thanks for their contributions is by making yourself available to make others succeed.
  3. Learn. Learn. Never stop learning: As you graduate today, I hope you will have no illusion that you have learned everything you need for the rest of your career, and that you are set for life. The world is changing faster than ever, and so is the market and the industry. Make your skill set something that is refreshed all the time. If you don’t cultivate the hunger to learn, it is very likely that there will come a point in your career where you are feeling stuck and will not have the tools available to push yourself into a new trajectory or career orbit.
  4. Have integrity: Be honest to the work that you do, be honest to the organisation that you work for, to your colleagues, to your customers, to your suppliers, to your juniors. The word “integrity” has its roots in “intact” or “whole”. When someone lacks integrity, it is as if they have a split personality – thinking or believing one way, while behaving another way. The greater the difference between the two, the more energy you will waste. If you have integrity in life, if your thoughts, words and actions are aligned, all your energy will work in the same direction. I know this could be possibly the most difficult pieces of advice I’m asking you to follow, but I think it will pay off for you in building your career.
  5. Adopt a responsible approach towards the environment: As graduating students of NIFT you need to realise that you are becoming a part of the 2nd most polluting industry in the world after oil and gas! As India’s economic growth continues, the fashion, consumer products and retail sector are expected to grow as well. It is critical that today’s youth actually start questioning how this industry runs worldwide. Please don’t blindly accept that just because the global industry has worked in a particular way for the last 80-100 years, it is the right way. The fashion sector runs on planned obsolescence – i.e. products are planned to be discarded within a short time, even if physically and functionally there is nothing wrong with them. At a recent industry conference, I called fashion a “zombie industry” – zombies are supposed to be dead but they act as if they are alive, as they run about eating people’s brains. Don’t become another zombie in a zombie industry. Find ways to fight the waste created within and by this industry. If you can make it more sustainable, less wasteful, it is your own world that will be a better place to live in.

Thank you so much for patiently hearing me out. I hope some of the advice would have resonated with you, and will prove useful. I wish you all the very best and offer you my congratulations, on behalf of all the other alumni – welcome to the industry. Thank you!