Jockey entered the Indian market in 1994 under an exclusive partnership with Page Industries Ltd. and has consistently been gaining market share in the Indian apparel market by offering consumers products that are world-class in both comfort and style.
As the pioneer of the premium innerwear category in the country, Jockey also introduced a world-class retail experience for its consumers that evolved through the years. One of the key strategic calls for the brand was to be the first innerwear brand in India to set up Exclusive Brand Stores.
“It's a long journey that we've traversed and it seems like it's just the beginning of a much larger one that is yet to come. We've completed around 27 odd years of existence. Jockey entered India in 1994 and since then there has been no looking back. We've been having a double-digit growth year-on-year for a very long period of time. Way back in 1995 just a year after we had actually launched, we had set up our first retail store at Commercial Street, Bengaluru and those were the times when retail in itself was at a very nascent stage in the country, and there were hardly any international brands operating here,” says Rahul Shukla, Chief Retail Officer and Head of Modern Retail (EBO & LFS) – Page Industries.
“The retail that we see now, I mean it was unknown at that point in time. Moreover, we operated and the innerwear space and it was unheard of to have open displays of merchandise and interacting with consumers in that space. Jockey actually brought, this innerwear out of the closet and, it brought into conversation with the consumers. And since then, I think it's been a very fruitful, very successful journey,” he further adds.
The Jockey Exclusive Brand Stores today operate across different formats with a curated assortment of products ranges catering to specific consumer segments.
Cracking a Tough Nut
Innerwear is a tough market to crack as most of it is still unorganized. However, Jockey has successfully conquered the innerwear market in India.
Focused on building a global brand Jockey changed the rules of retailing innerwear with stunning product display modules, attractive box packaging, and lifestyle point of sale imagery. Jockey brought the category of innerwear ‘out of the closet’ using ‘first-of-its-kind’ international brand communication.
“It has to be a 360-degree effort from understanding the consumers need before they actually become aware of it themselves to getting those innovations in product, getting them out in place, and ensuring that your supply chain, logistics, and manufacturing is attuned to the demand that you're creating, ensuring that your products are accessible to the consumer, ensuring that your brand is visible and has an emotional connect with the consumers,” he asserts.
The Jockey EBS network is today a destination for consumers seeking an experience and a deeper engagement with the brand. Jockey adapted early on during the pandemic and realigned its retail expansion ambitions towards a higher presence on high streets, focusing on Tier III and IV towns and district headquarters without losing sight of opportunities in Metros and Mini Metros. The next frontier is the adoption of technology while retaining the human touch to create delightful shopping experiences for Jockey consumers everywhere.
“We have 1,001 as of the end of September and in terms of strategy for expansion, it is focused on all parameters because we want to reach out to our consumers wherever they are going and shopping. During the pandemic, we focused more on expanding our presence in the high-streets,” he avers.
“80 percent stores of the brand have a presence on the high-streets. Tier III and IV towns have become a major source of growth for the brand –both in terms of the business as well as in terms of reach and penetration,” he further adds.
The brand does an elaborate exercise of analyzing catchments, understanding where the consumers are, doing benchmarking, and then identifies the gaps in the catchments. Once done, it reaches out to the franchisees and business partners in these gaps or catchments where it wants to expand.
The average store size of the store is close to 1,000 square feet, however, depending on the location, it operates in a band of close to 900 to 1,200 square feet range.
Integrating technology with the brand has become the need of the hour. The success of any brand depends upon how effectively and efficiently it has married technology with the brand.
“We create a world-class experience inside the store using a digital platform to ensure that all our store's staff is trained in product knowledge, selling skills, and in today's time even the COVID protocols. This all requires a digital interface, and the analytics and the insights that you would want about the consumer's buying behavior so that you can anticipate their needs, even before they have realized it. From PoS to consumer feedback, everything is backed by technology,” he asserts.
What Lies Ahead?
Going Omnichannel is a part of the brand’s roadmap going ahead.
“India is a country of many countries and there is a huge market which is still unexplored and we are just beginning to realize the potential that Tier III, IV towns and cities and district headquarters hold for us. This pandemic forced us to realize the potential non-urban India holds for brands like us in the consumer space. So, yes we will continue to drive our expansion in tier III and IV towns along with focusing on creating flagship stores in metros.
The brand reached the 2019 revenue levels last year itself despite the first two quarters being washed off by the pandemic. Quarter-on-quarter the performance of the brand has been improving and it is looking at a substantial growth over FY 19-20 base.
“Over the last four quarters, Jockey retail has seen high same store double-digit growth,” he concludes.