Being in existence for over five decades, Rupa has established itself as a name synonymous with quality innerwear and comfort. Rupa is one of India’s leading knitwear brands having a pan-India presence through a distribution network of over 125,000 retailers, more than 1,200 wholesale dealers, and over 300 sales and marketing professionals. The brand manages a portfolio of about 14 brands and over 7,000 + SKUs (stock-keeping units) across ranges for men, women, and children.
Ramesh Agarwal, Executive Director & Chief Financial Officer, Rupa & Co. Ltd., said, “Our journey over the years has been full of landmark milestones, such as being conferred as the largest manufacturer of hosiery products by the Limca Book of Records 13 times and registering our highest ever revenue and PAT since inception for the year FY 20-21, undeterred by the global pandemic. The key learnings have been consistency and agility, attributes that have helped us to continually evolve and remain an undisputed market leader for decades on end.”
“Our annual FY 21-22 turnover was Rs 1,26,121.68 lakhs, with a 33.97 percent YOY growth. On the back of our exceptional performance and multiple profit-generating avenues, we expect to keep up the momentum and expect to maintain strong revenue growth in the coming years, owing to our focus on value generation, market expansion, and rising demand for comfort wear,” he asserted.
Impact of Covid-19
Due to the lockdown measures enforced by the central and state governments, the factories of the company were not operating at the beginning of FY 20-21, in turn affecting Rupa’s production and supply chain. The pandemic also negatively impacted the modern trade channels, slowing down business throughout the sector. The segment’s exports were also substantially hit during the period owing to logistical impediments. However, the company’s full-scaled operations resumed in May 2020, as per the guidelines issued by the government authorities. Keeping the same in mind, Rupa & Co. adopted an efficient work from home policy for its employees, wherever necessary.
“However, despite the multiple challenges at hand, we were able to give a stellar performance and witnessed a record growth across all our financial parameters, revenue, EBITDA, and PAT. We delivered record revenues and profitability on the back of strong volume growth, operational efficiencies, better product mix, and cost specialization programs managing to turn the tide in our favor,” Ramesh stated.
“Furthermore, since we had focused on providing an equal push on athletic plus leisurewear, we were ready to meet the increasing demand for the athleisure segment. While the impact of the pandemic was largely negative, we saw a silver lining in how the lockdown helped remove the clogs within the system and made the overall process leaner, improving our efficiency. The work-from-home culture also helped build inclusiveness in the workplace and generated continuous top-down support that boosted the overall efficiency of our employees. This also created a high degree of confidence in the leadership and helped mitigate the bottlenecks that have developed due to the pandemic,” he added.
Emerging Consumer Trends
The textile domain is ever-evolving and some noteworthy consumer trends shaping the knitwear segment, in particular, are the evolution of new-age fabrics and the concept of ‘crafting for comfort’.
“Innerwear today is no longer an after-thought or a basic necessity, but a fashion statement in itself, with ever-increasing preferences for products in the premium and athleisure segments. As a result, the shelf life of innerwear has gone down, becoming more like apparel, with product innovations at regular intervals. Consumers today are looking for a unique blend of functionality and style along with a more economical outlook that has been steering a new age for the domain,” he told.
Consumer-First Product Portfolio
Rupa and Co. has always stayed ahead of the curve by continually introducing a new line of products across all segments, according to the changing consumer needs.
Ramesh informed, “With a firm focus on the overall growth of our innerwear, thermal wear, and athleisure wear business across India, we continue to emphasize innovative designs, superior product quality, a sustainable business model, initiatives to nurture in-house talent, and rock-solid stakeholder relations. A testament to the same, our recently launched trendy color trunks under our brand Frontline have already received a phenomenal response and we continue to bring game-changing products to the market.”
“Today, we are also enhancing our quality product offerings in the children and women’s segment. Both the children's and women’s segments have a lower presence of organized players and hence, provide a huge opportunity for the company. Furthermore, the country’s innerwear segment is shifting from a price-sensitive market to a fashion quotient market, and we are in turn increasing our footprints in the premium segment with strategic tie-ups with foreign brands and are also expanding in new international geographies,” he further noted.
Strengthening Digital Strategy
As a brand, Rupa’s prime focus has always been on effectively reaching out to its consumers, which means the brand is placing itself where its consumers are available. COVID-19 has led to a never seen before dependence on smartphones. As a result of the same, Rupa has adapted to the needs of the times, and strengthened its digital strategy across all channels, to effectively connect with customers everywhere, in spite of the pandemic.
“Today, the digital route is swiftly becoming one of the most important strategies for our marketing, with the strengthening of our presence on social media platforms and various e-commerce websites,” he remarked.
Ramesh said, “Our well-equipped IT system ensures real-time information is available through the faster and efficient transmission of data, which has helped us expand upon our digital capabilities. Through our state-of-the-art machinery, we have achieved optimal capacity utilization, whilst maintaining lower costs, in turn helping us expand our digital footprint and streamline our supply chain to overcome any logistical challenges.”
Rupa’s focus has always been achieving quality growth that binds all stakeholders together and it is always on the lookout for new opportunities. With online players now delivering to the smallest of towns, the brand is increasing its digital reach as well as strengthening its presence in Tier III & IV markets. It is also continually expanding internationally by increasing its presence in the premium segment with direct and indirect strategic tie-ups with foreign brands.
Ramesh asserted, “Going forward, we plan to establish a franchise business model within the top 50 cities in India and aim to roll out 30 EBOs by the end of the financial year and 100 EBOs in the next two to three years.”
“Our growth plans are directly in line with our strategic expansion, and we are appointing new distributors and building experience centers to further strengthen our sales in the potential and existing markets, whilst also implementing a strategy to double our export sales by FY22,” he said.
“Furthermore, we are spearheading initiatives to improve our customer base in the central and southern part of the country and plan to elevate revenues through increased presence and availability at retail counters of all the SKUs,” he concluded.