Rochelle Britto & Shabori Das, The Economic Times
May 25, 2023
“Taiyaar Hoke Aaiye”. It seems the tagline has worked for the company which has been able to attract investors who came prepared for its offer for sale (OFS).
In a bid to reduce promoters’ shareholding down to 75% as per SEBI norms, Vedant Fashions, known for its ethnic wear brand Manyavar, floated the OFS on May 19 which saw huge participation — oversubscribed 1.4 times with bids for 34 million shares as compared to 24 million shares on the offer. The non-retail segment was oversubscribed 2.24 times.
The shares were offered at a price of INR1,161. While the stock initially fell 1.5% on May 19 to INR1,230, it was trading at INR1,268 on May 24, up 4.59% in five days.
The promoters have offloaded 16.9 million shares, which works out to 7% of the total equity shares with an option to sell additional 6.9 million (2.88%) shares, taking the total to 9.88%.
Manyavar represents the premium wedding market of the country and boasts of some big names as its brand ambassador — Virat Kohli, Amitabh Bachchan, Ranveer Singh, and Kartik Aaryan. With strong fundamentals, the company has grown at 30% CAGR over the last one year and investors feel this is one classic growth stock with high valuations that cannot be ignored. Vedant Fashions trades at a PE multiple of 73x while Trent, a competitor, has a PE of 119x.
The great Indian wedding
The sales of Vedant Fashion are highly correlated to the wedding season. The Indian wedding market is massive at USD50 billion with around 3 million weddings or events taking place every year. According to news reports, the spending is growing and is likely to be around INR3.75 lakh crore this year.
According to Crisil, weddings are getting bigger, grander, and longer, fuelled by higher disposable incomes and a surge in discretionary spending. It expects the ethnic-apparel market to grow between 15% and 17% to nearly INR1.38 trillion by 2025, supported by a growing desire among Indians to wear traditional attire instead of western wear for big celebrations.
While a lavish spending is done on everything, from venue to food to even flower arrangement, clothes hog the limelight. The business has become high-margin, elite, and high-fashion. And the organised market is growing at a very fast pace.
In the organised market, Vedant Fashion has a 40% market share which might be difficult to maintain as competition increases. “In the upcoming quarter, while April experiences a slight lull in wedding dates, May and June present an abundance of excellent opportunities. Moreover, as we analyse the entire year ahead, we are highly confident in the favourable wedding dates during Q3 and Q4. These trends align closely with our historical data, reinforcing our optimism for the current new financial year,”says Vedant Modi, chief marketing officer, Vedant Fashions.
“Vedant Fashions has successfully tapped into and emerged as the market leader, head and shoulders above competitors, in a segment that has been extremely fragmented. Festive wear and occasion wear is not immune to downturns, but is better placed to ride them out, and this makes it a very attractive product segment. However, Vedant have exploited this opportunity and scaled up much more successfully than other companies, beginning with menswear and then in womenswear,” says Devangshu Dutta, CEO, Third Eyesight.
Vedant Fashions is expanding its retail footprint by adding around 75,000 sq ft retail area in Q4FY23. It has a total retail presence of 1.47 million square feet as of March FY23, spanning across 649 stores in 257 cities. There is a direct correlation between the addition of stores and the growth in sales, but the full potential of a new store takes some time. Almost 40% of the expansion has happened in the fourth quarter, so the full revenue (of the expansion) would come in the following year. Thus, many times the store growth doesn’t match the revenue growth.
The company is also expanding in US, UAE, London, and Canada to cater to the growing Indian community in these markets. For FY23, it has had sales growth of 30% at INR1,355 crore with Ebitda margins at 50%.
However, the growth witnessed by the company in FY23 has slowed down despite an upswing in events and weddings.
Vedant Fashions reported revenue growth of 76% in FY22 over FY21 and profit growth of 136% during the same period. While the slowdown in the growth rate can be attributed to settling down of revenge shopping post-pandemic, the number of social events has definitely increased to not take notice.
“Market valuations are an indicator of not only present value of a business but also perceived future value, and market leaders usually are rewarded with richer valuations(Page Industries is another such example),” adds Dutta.
The company’s latest presentation states that it has achieved 95% ROCE for FY23. The company is still in an investment stage and its cash flow statement says that INR249 crore is blocked in investments for FY23.
In a market that is lacking growth, the wedding season almost looks like recession-proof. The market has returned to growth mode even at a time when inflation is high and the overall economy is subdued. But then, the Indian wedding market — especially the part that Vedant Fashion tracks — is on a high and the growth will continue for a long time.
While the number of players is increasing, not many have a picture-perfect balance sheet with high ROEs and even higher Ebitda margins. Vedant Fashions has become the classic growth stock with very high valuations. It has a price/book value of 28x but investors feel that for a company that generates a high ROE and a high growth, the valuation is not extreme.
Mutual funds and institutional investors are making a beeline for the stock because of the growth rate and the overall size of the market. According to BSE filings, mutual funds account for 8.90% of the total holding where SBI Mutual Fund has the biggest share at 3.80%. On the other hand, retail holds 1.43%. Post the OFS, these numbers will go up.
The company successfully launched its initial public offering (IPO) last year. The stock debuted at an 8.08% premium over the issue price of INR866. The share slipped more than 4% on May 18 as the promoters announced plans to sell stake in the company.
Since listing, the company has gained 36% and has had a great run with its stock being up by a significant 27% over the last one year as compared to its peer Aditya Birla, which is down by 30.95%, and Nifty 50, up by just 12%.
The Indian apparel market is amongst the top three consumer categories. The pandemic made a lot of consumers switch to the online channel — which was also enabled by easy returns. However, while western apparel in India is a lot more frequently purchased when it comes to the online channel, the offline channel continues to be the primary source of consumers and footfall for ethnic-wear brands. The organised ethnic wear market in India is still relatively small, as the unorganised apparel category, ethnic and otherwise, continues to dominate.
The primary market for the unorganised ethnic wear is mostly women, driven by everyday and wedding wear categories.
According to Euromonitor International, a UK-based market research firm, the Indian apparel market is expected to be at USD58,773.8 million by the end CY23 (excluding the footwear market). The market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.6% during CY2023-CY2027.
“The apparel and footwear market experienced significant recovery in 2022 with the easing of Covid-19 restrictions. The industry also benefited from the return of festivals and weddings to their pre-pandemic fervour, as these are periods when the demand for categories such as ethnic apparel and other occasion-based apparel spiked,” says Euromonitor International.
The peer play
Prominent players like Aditya Birla Fashion, Reliance Retail, and Tata-owned Trent are making strategic investments in the country’s thriving ethnic wear market, estimated at INR1.84 trillion.
The recent acquisition of TCNS Clothing by Aditya Birla Fashion further solidifies this ongoing trend. With a transaction value of INR1,650 crore for a controlling stake of 51%, this acquisition highlights the company’s commitment to capitalising on the prevailing market dynamics.
According to Ashish Dikshit, managing director of Aditya Birla Fashion, ethnic wear commands the largest market share in India’s apparel industry, comprising 30% (equivalent to INR1.84 trillion) of the total domestic apparel market valued at INR6.15 trillion, while 80%-85% of the ethnic wear market, according to experts, is dominated by the unorganised segment. The branded or organised end of the market at 15%-20% (around INR28,000 crore – INR37,000 crore in size) is growing at around 20% per annum.
Trent, owned by Tata, has launched a new ethnic wear brand Samoh to increase its market share, as consumers splurge on fresh attire for every event. The new brand will help Trent to compete with Manyavar, and Aditya Birla in the ethnic wear space. The company also has two other fashion retail formats. Its flagship concept, Westside, caters to discerning customers who are aspirational and yet seek value for money. The other format, Zudio, with much smaller stores, operates in a more mass-priced segment. Besides, Trent runs a relatively new concept store, Utsa, which sells its own ethnic and indie wear private labels like Utsa, Zuba, Vark, and Diza.
A growth stock?
The management’s disciplined approach to growth, exemplified by the gradual scale-up of brands like Mohey and Twamev, has been instrumental in mitigating the risks associated with inflated working capital and excessive write-downs. This prudent strategy has safeguarded Vedant Fashions’ profitability and allowed it to maintain sustainable growth without compromising on scalability.
The company’s strong design capabilities with data-driven decision making (leading to no discounted sales), tech-driven supply chain, and auto replenishment model, exclusive vendor ecosystem, and franchise-based EBO expansion have helped scale up its business and achieve superior margins. Most brokerage houses give the stock a “buy” rating.
Manyavar’s decision to team up with some of the country’s top names like Virat Kohli, Ranveer Singh, and Kiara Advani (for Mohey) demonstrates its ambition to capture new markets and connect with a diverse customer base. Continuing the brand’s vision to associate with the best, it reinforced #DulhanWaliFeeling by looping in actress Kiara Advani in January 2023 as the new brand ambassador. With all of them on board, Vedant Fashions hopes to have a joyful journey in style!
By capitalising on their influence, Manyavar solidifies its position as a leading ethnic wear brand in India. But will the company live up to the investors’ expectations? For a growth investor, the answer is yes.
(Published in Economic Times)
Third Eyesight’s CEO, Devangshu Dutta recently participated in a discussion about the phenomenal growth of the Patanjali brand, from yoga lessons to a food and FMCG conglomerate taking well-established multinational and Indian competitors head-on. In a conversation with Zee Business anchor, P. Karunya Rao and FCB-Ulka’s chairman Rohit Ohri, Devangshu shared his thoughts on the factors playing to Patanjali’s advantage. Excerpts from the conversation were telecast on Brandstand on Zee Business:
If you’re like me, then at any given point of time you have a vague idea about what is in your refrigerator, but not quite. That must why we end up buying stuff that duplicates what is already in the fridge.
Here’s an example of what that translates into for me:
At other times, it is the semi-consumed half-loaf of bread that gets trashed half-way through its fossilization process. Or the new flavour of cheese spread, where the price offer may have been tastier than the spread itself.
I sure there will be at least some among you who would have similar stories. (I would be shattered if I’m told that I am the only one with these tales of inadvertent consumption!)
In the normal course, we would not call ourselves excessive consumers. For the most part, we believe we display rational shopping behaviour. We make our lists before leaving for the market and we generally know which shop or shops we want to stop in at. So, why do we end up doubling or trebling our purchases, when we aren’t actively “consuming” double or triple the amount of food?
Well, the lords of marketing spin have mapped their way into our minds. In a strategy that has been proven over centuries, we are offered things ‘free’ or at a significant discount. The very thought of getting something for free, or for less than what it is worth, is so seductive and irresistible.
(As an aside, just look at what has happened during the last few years in the real estate market and the stock market – everyone thought that they were getting a good deal because the stuff was “worth actually more” than the amount they were paying. Not!)
We believe we are being rational in buying the three packs of juice at the price of two – never mind the fact that juice wasn’t on the shopping list in the first place. The danglers and end-caps jump out and ambush us, as we walk through the aisles. The samplers entice in their small voices: “try me”.
You might say that the really traditional kiranawala is the customer’s greatest friend and also a barrier against uncontrolled consumption.
By keeping the merchandise behind the counter or in the back-room, he maintains a healthy distance between the addiction source and all us potential shopaholics. In fact, he goes beyond the call of duty, and even prevents us from stepping anywhere near the merchandise by delivering to our homes.
The enticing deals and offers that you can’t see won’t hurt you. You won’t call to get that new, exciting BOGO (buy one-get one) offer, because you don’t know that it’s there in the store.
Unless, of course, the sneaky brand with its accomplice – the advertising agency – sidesteps him, and puts out the temptation in your morning newspaper.
By now, surely, you’re wondering whose side I am on.
Well, as a consumer and a customer, I am only on one side – mine!
As someone who is intensively involved with the retail sector, I’m also on the side of the brands and the retailers.
And believe me, we are all actually sitting on the same side of the table.
The years in this decade, after the recovery from the minor blip of dot-com busts, have been like one mega party and most people have forgotten that parties seldom last forever. And the morning after the wild party can start with quite a headache.
Retailers and brands have recently acted as if there is no end to multiplier annual growth rates, and consumers have been only to happy to prove them right. Until now.
Currently, we are passing through a fairly serious global economic correction which started in 2007. But it has only really hit hard in the last couple of months, as the headlines have increasingly started talking about recessions and depressions. Naturally, there are some people who have really lost money, others may be looking at the possibility of lower income. But even those people who sustain their current incomes are “feeling poor”, just as they were “feeling wealthy” when the markets were booming.
Of course, superfluous or discretionary expenditure such as movies in multiplexes, eating out etc. are the first to get hit. But should grocery retailers rest easy – after all, people still have to eat, right?
And how about deals, and multi-buy discounts – isn’t this the scenario where “more for less” will be the strategy which will work?
Well, I don’t believe it is quite so cut-and-dried, or quite so simple. The grocery shopping lists will not only become tighter, but will also be more tightly adhered to. Anything that looks like it may be a wasteful expense will be unlikely.
Remember the deals in the fridge? What you are throwing away now starts looking like money being put into the trash.
Pardon the seemingly sexist remark, but men: your wives will not let you get away with driving your trolleys irresponsibly into aisles where you are not supposed to be!
So how should retailers and brands respond?
Well, a good starting point would be to understand what the real market is. Let us not infinitely extrapolate growth figures on a excel spreadsheet on the basis of the early-years of new businesses. Let us not extrapolate national demand numbers from the consumption patterns of select suburbs of Delhi and Mumbai.
When we have the numbers right, let’s look at the business fundamentals at those basic levels of consumption. Is there a viable business model?
Is the business full of productive resources, or are we overstaffed with “cheap Indian labour”?
Is your modern retail business or your food / FMCG brand really providing value to the Indian consumer? For instance, two very senior people from large retail companies were very vocal this last weekend in stating that the value provided by local business to the value-conscious consumer was grossly underestimated by the industry.
I believe that best filter for business plans is the filter of business sustainability. How sustainable is the business over the next few years? What is the real demand? What are the true cost structures, and can these be supported on an inflationary basis year-on-year, or will you be squeezing the vendors for more margin at every stage until the relationship goes into a death spiral?
Let’s look at macro-economics. Are you actively looking at generating and spreading wealth and income around, or is your focus only on stuffing that third pack of juice into the fridge for it to go stale? If your strategy is the latter one then, to my mind, that is neither a sustainable economic model nor a sustainable business.
There’s more about the current and developing economic scenario, “realistic retailing” and other such issues, elsewhere on the Third Eyesight website and blog, including a presentation made at the CII National Retail Summit in November 2006 (download or read as a PDF). (The article based on that presentation is here.)
I really look forward to your thoughts and would welcome a dialogue on how you believe retailers and brands should work through the next few years as we unravel the excesses of the recent past.
Many people I know treat shopping centres or malls as a new phenomenon, a progressive development of recent times or a modern blot on the traditional cityscape (depending on your point of view).
However, Grand Bazaar (Istanbul, Turkey) is the earliest known mall, with the original structures built in 1464, with additions and embellishments later.
In India, if one were to include open arcades, Chandni Chowk in Delhi is reported to have opened around 1650, with its speciality shopping streets. (Of course, more traditional bazaars have been around many thousands of years around the world.)
But even if one were to get more “traditional” about the definition of a mall, possibly India’s first mall was founded in the hottest city in the country then, Kolkata (New Market) in 1874.
In more recent history, Delhi’s municipal pride, the air-conditioned underground Palika Bazar was a novelty in the mid-1980s, while Bangalore’s Brigade Road saw several early pioneers with their shopping arcades in the late 1980s.
Then came the mall-mania beginning with Ansal Plaza in Delhi and Crossroads in Mumbai. Everyone started looking at malls as the new goldmine, being pushed ahead by a “retail boom”.
The early stage of any such gold rush usually has several experiments missing their mark, which is what has happened with the hundreds of mall-experiments that have been launched in the last 7-8 years.
Some of the significant and common issues are starting to be addressed, but many others remain.
Catchment-Based Planning is Needed
The top-most issue in my mind is “oversupply”. While this may sound absurd to many people, given the low figures quoted for modern retail, I am referring to the over-concentration of malls in a small geography. If 8-10 malls open 4-5 million sq. ft. of shopping in a catchment that can only support 1 million sq. ft., everyone knows that some of the malls will fail. But everyone also believes that their mall will succeed (otherwise, they would obviously not have invested in the mall).
What happens to the malls that fail? Depending on the design of the building, many of them can be repurposed into office space – another area where a lot of investment is still needed. So in the end, actually, most people win, one way or the other. Yet, there will be some losers. Does anyone “plan” on being one?
The second key issue in my mind has been that mall developers have been thinking as “property developers” rather than retail space managers. The successful shopping centre operators worldwide (now also in India), are actually as concerned about what and who is occupying that space as a retailer would be. They are concerned about the composition of the catchment, the shopping patterns, the volume of sales, the shopping experience. Therefore, the tenant mixes as well as adjacencies are factored into the earliest stages of planning the shopping centres.
In fact, if I were to identify the most critical operational problem for many of the malls, it is the lack of relevance to catchment and, therefore, the low conversion of footfall into sales for the tenants other than the food-courts. Customer flow planning within the mall is another factor that can make a tremendous impact on the success and failure of the tenant stores.
Once you start looking at these factors during the planning of a mall, another obvious aspect that jumps out is “differentiation”. Currently, there is little to choose from between malls (other than possibly the anchor store). However, with more clarity in terms of the target audience, the potential strategies for differentiation also become clearer. The visitors also become segmented accordingly, and there is a natural benefit to the tenants occupying the mall.
If, as a mall operator, you want to be in business for long, and also develop other properties in the future, the success of your tenants is probably the most critical driving factor for your business.
Integration into the Urbanscape
When we gauge malls from the perspective of integrating within the urban landscape, there are obviously some glaring errors being made. Instead of aesthetic design that reflects the heritage and culture of the location and its surroundings, or some other inspirational source for the architect, most malls that have come up are concrete and glass boxes.
Beyond the looks, some of the malls are a victim of their own success. They attract more crowds during the peak than they have planned for. Not only does the parking prove to be inadequate, there is no holding capacity for cars entering or exiting the mall. The result is a traffic nightmare – not just for general public, but even for the visitors to the mall. Someone who has spent 45 minutes stuck in a jam waiting to get into the parking of a mall will certainly not be in the best frame of mind to buy merchandise at the stores occupying the mall.
Some of the problems lie outside the mall-developer’s control – for instance land costs are a major driver of the cost of the project (and, therefore, the lease costs to the tenants), and land is a commodity which is independent. Real estate is available within the cities as brown-field sites (former industrial locations), but the regulations are convoluted and the strings are in the hands of too many different departments of the government (city, state and central). This needs joint creative thinking on the part of developers, the government and the public, if our cities are to develop in a more sane fashion than they have in the past.
Similarly, land deals are still not clean enough for foreign investors to be comfortable participating in many developments. This obviously is holding back a tremendous source of capital and domain expertise that could contribute to the growth of this sector.
Many other operational issues exist – manpower, systems, health & safety – some of them can be managed or controlled by the mall developers, and it is a question of time (and of their gaining experience). Other issues are more in the domain of the government, and need a visionary push to make “urban renewal” a true mission.
New Life for the Cities
In my opinion, one of the most interesting areas which would be in the joint interest of almost all parties (that I can think of) is the possibility of revitalizing the high streets and community markets, and reinventing them as the true centres of shopping.
Many of our markets are rotting (a strong word, but let me say it anyway). The individual stores are owned by individual owners who are not all equally capable of maintaining the same look and feel throughout. The infrastructure in and around the markets are owned or managed by several different agencies. To make matters worse, there is often no cohesiveness and no synergy in the interests of most of the members of the market association. None of these individually have the power or the mandate to recreate the shopping centre. But what if they could get together and take the help of a re-developer?
If an example is needed, New Delhi’s Connaught Place provides the example of one stage of redevelopment. Connaught Place had lost its pre-eminent position as a shopping centre, due to the spread of Delhi’s population and the new local markets that had come up. Further disruption was caused by the construction by Delhi Metro. But DMRC has reconstructed an “improved” centre, and the Metro connectivity has made the customers come back into CP, as it is affectionately known in Delhi.
There are clearly many such opportunities around India’s cities. These need to be looked at as a commercial opportunity for all concerned (revenue for the redeveloper, better sales for the store owners / tenants, more tax revenue for the government from additional sales and consumption). But it is also a broader social opportunity to breathe a new life into our cities, and to make them proud beacons of a growing India.
It would be a mission that would truly prove the worth of shopping centre developers, urban planners, regulators and the retailers themselves.
Picture an upper-middle class consumer out shopping groceries in a large, air-conditioned hypermarket after catching the new movie at the mall.
Global best-practice is the standard here. The aisles are wide enough to allow two shopping-carts to pass each other comfortably, and are organized according to product categories. The shelves are neatly ticketed, and the products equipped with bar-codes to allow for quick checkout. The emphasis is clearly on convenience. But (surprise!) the store has apparently underestimated the demand for the conveniently pre-cut and packaged vegetables. The loose vegetables are going untouched, while the pre-cut packs are almost sold out. Looks like another win for modern retailers.
This scenario would seem plausible to most people who have observed or been part of the growth of modern retailing in a market like India.
The “organized retail boom” and “growing consuming class” are consuming miles of newsprint and eons of airtime, while the malls are the gleaming new temples at which every devotee of retail must pay respect. This is the picture of modernization or organization of the Indian retail sector that comes to the mind of most people.
On the other hand, the picture that comes to mind when one thinks about the traditional sabziwala (greengrocer) is a total contrast. A messy side-street, with the push-carts overflowing with an indifferent mix of vegetables, other than the occasional yellow bell pepper or some other such “exotic” produce. Or the typical kirana shop owner scrawling an illegible list of items and figures on a scrap of paper and handing it over as the “bill” for the groceries one has just bought. Surely, a business model that is not going anywhere fast.
So, to most people, the line between modern or “organized” retail and traditional or “unorganized” retail is quite clear, and the differences quite stark. “Organized retail” usually means large, “corporate” stores that personify the so-called “retail revolution” which apparently is about 3-5 years old, while traditional retail business usually means “unorganized” and “belonging to the past” (or at least, soon to belong to the past).
However, a revolution is when the majority starts getting impacted. When only a few create a change that mainly benefits them, it is a coup.
To anyone who has been involved in the retail sector for longer, in fact, there has been a far more interesting, widespread and ongoing change in the retail business over the past couple of decades, and possibly further back. This is not restricted to a few corporate groups. It is not even restricted to the front-end (store-end) of the business.
The change is created by the feedback loop between customer expectation and the minimum acceptable standard of service which is constantly being moved up. Of course, the newly-minted corporate retailers have a role to play in this. But, more than that, it involves many small changes accumulating organically over a period of time involving individual kirana owners, farmers, wholesale traders, market associations, the FMCG companies and even the migrant villager who sets up a hand-cart that may be stocked daily with rolling credit from the money-lender.
And that is my point. The modernization of retail is an ongoing process, and it is sustainable because it is widespread.
In recent Indian retail history, as customers we may identify a point where we saw the local shop shift from stocks in a dingy back-room to being displayed openly, setting the example for other shops in the market.
But the changes needed were not just at the retailer’s end – they also required the wholesale vendor’s approach as well as the FMCG principal’s approach to begin changing.
Certainly a shift occurred in service standards, when vegetable vendors started taking home-delivery orders on mobile phones – impossible without the wider telecom price-quality revolution. And when credit card swipe machines started appearing in the kirana, something that could have only happened with the support of the banks and their intermediaries.
And the pre-cut packaged vegetables whose demand the hypermarket had underestimated? Well, the sabziwala has that covered as well – beginning with the packs of cleaned baby-corn, this list has now expanded to include pre-shelled green chick-pea (chholiya), cut jackfruit and chopped sarson saag – vegetables that can be quite inconvenient to clean at home when time is scarce.
The impact of this modernization was brought home to me, when I observed a customer reprimanding the local sabziwala for not keeping adequate stock of shelled peas. The interesting aspect was that this was not one-half of an upwardly-mobile DINK couple. The customer here was a domestic helper, whose complaint was that he had many other jobs to get done around the house, and shelling peas was something that was too time-consuming and best “outsourced”!
So, to all those who have the question, “what is the key to succeeding in the Indian retail market”: the key may lie somewhere entirely different from where you have been looking, or the customer-profile that you have been building.
We are surely underestimating the business potential amongst India’s middle and not-so-middle classes – as we would discover if only we were to re-state business objectives and tweak strategy a little bit, and look at the market without high income-tinted glasses.