Cambridge, a men’s fashion company began operations in 1960 selling only shirts with a single store in Colaba, Mumbai under the guidance of Mohanlal Bhatia. The next decade and a half was when the brand achieved towering success and began expansion by adding another store in Mumbai. The company eventually started manufacturing all garments and accessories for men due to the overwhelming response received. The ropes of the business eventually were taken over by Inderji Bhatia in the early 70’s who along with assistance from his brothers took over the management of entire manufacturing, retail and distribution of Cambridge garments. They also entered newer terrains through export activities to countries such as Kuwait and the UAE. In an exclusive conversation with Prashant Bhatia who is third generation Brand Custodian talks about expansion plans of the organization.
How would you assess the evolution of the Indian fashion market? According to you, what are the factors propelling growth in this segment?
Brands are the new storytellers. People today love to associate their personalities with brands. Over the years, Brand awareness has grown steadily due to distinctive brand identities, markets, and feel. The drive has come from the urban market segments with organized retail trade. We believe that more & more people are switching or willing to switch from unbranded to branded if the price is not a deterrent. Exposure to international trends, increased purchasing power, social media platforms, better accessibility, and power dressing has also helped the growth in this segment over the last few years.
Tell us about the Cambridge Clothing Company including the inception and journey so far.
Since its inception, Cambridge has been an identity of premium but affordable dressing for men. In its 60 years of existence, the brand has stood out for its quality fabrics, comfort and affordability solutions. Catering to the complete wardrobe needs of a man, the brand has grown from a shirt maker to a powerhouse brand offering Formal Shirts, Formal Trousers, Business Casuals, Jeans, T-shirts, Suits, Blazers, Ethnic Wear and Accessories.
Since the brand is more than six decades old. What are the key learnings acquired so far?
The greatest of learning for the Brand in these six decades of operation has been that – Brands aren’t built in a day. It’s a reflection of constant efforts and promise to deliver only the best. There can never be a substitute for good quality and a promise of a low price cannot make a brand survive. Brands aren’t built on advertising alone. For a brand to live for years and make a mark in the market, a product needs to do the talking. Service is under-rated but always expected. Brands aren’t built on advertising alone.
Tell us about the current distribution in the online as well as offline space. Going forward, what are the plans to scale-up the distribution? Also, tell us about your international presence, and growth plans for the overseas market.
Currently, the brand retails from 80 EBOS and over 100 MBOS in the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, and Karnataka. In the coming years, we are planning to penetrate further and cover the Tier 2, 3 and 4 towns across the regions in India. On the online space, We are currently available on Amazon.in and plan to sharpen our presence across social media, and e-commerce websites. We are on for a Global Footprint with the brand selling across the Middle East, Carribean Islands and some parts of Africa.
How consumer behavior has evolved as far as fashion consumption is concerned?
Consumer preferences have evolved significantly over the last few years. While the earlier customers preferred unbranded products over branded ones, the current demands have shifted to a more branded space. People have started associating themselves with the brand and retail spaces while dressing. Moreover, the e-commerce trajectories have evolved so much, that customers purchase more online than from retail stores.
The demand for quality fabric, high-standard finish and comfort are on a rise. Sustainable and breathable fabrics are preferred over synthetics. Moreover, when you look at the formal dressing segments, slow fashion dominance still reigns.
Tell us about your pricing and average bill size?
We cater to formal shirts, T-shirts, and trousers for people of all sections. Our basic pricing starts at INR 399 for a T-shirt and goes up to about INR 999. The prices of the formal shirts and trousers vary as per the designs and collections but are mostly around the quoted range only. The Average Ticket Price is INR 900 to INR 1000.
How many categories you are retailing currently? Also, tell us about your top lines?
Our retail space caters to our entire range of products to treat our customers with the very best. It caters to Formalwear, Business casuals, Casuals wear, and Ethnic wear. While the demand for formal wear and business casuals is always high, the casual wear and ethnic section pick up the pace ahead of the festivities. The brand retails at INR 85 crores (MRP)
At last, kindly highlight your growth plans?
For future growth, we are anticipating a big rise in the retail as well as online space. We are planning to increase penetration in the existing territories rather than opening in newer regions. As a result, we are eyeing on increasing our EBO count to 100 by March 2021. The focus is on Tier 2, 3, and 4 towns in the present states covered. Moreover, the idea is to strengthen our online space and global identity by accelerating E-Commerce and Social Media.