India is the fifth-largest and preferred retail destination for international brands and businesses for ages now and the nation, over the past few years, has opened its gate to some of the biggest brands in the world and their success has continually enticed others to explore the opportunity that is Indian retail industry. The country is among the highest in the world in terms of per capita retail store availability. The segment has witnessed a drastic growth post-liberalization.
According to Forrester Research, in 2020, India's retail sector was estimated at US$ 883 billion and is projected to reach ~US$ 1.3 trillion by 2024. Consumer spending in India too increased to US$ 245.16 billion in the third quarter of 2020 from US$ 192.94 billion in the second quarter of 2020. Factors like healthy economic growth, changing demographic profile, increasing disposable income, urbanization, changing consumer tastes and preferences are some of the factors driving growth in the organized retail market in India.
Norlanka Brands Ltd is one such firm that has taken it upon itself to bring prestigious international brands to the Indian market by way of acquiring them along with their distribution and selling rights. The retail arm of the PDS Multinational Group responsible for launching the private label brands of PDS Multinational in India, the Middle East, and the South East Asian market, recently brought organic British kids wear brand Lilly+Sid to India. The award-winning conscious brand offers 100 percent organic cotton clothing for children.
Lilly+Sid is a trendy yet conscious brand, acquired by Norlanka Brands, entered India in a digitally forward format with an exclusive tie-up with Reliance Retail’s fashion marketplace, Ajio.com, supplemented by their own website www.lillyandsid.co.in.
Norlanka Brands opted for the e-commerce first approach in order to follow more environment-friendly processes for digital supply chain management and adopt sustainable practices for an overall reduction in its carbon footprint.
“As kids wear evolves to be an important lifestyle focus for parents, we are proud to launch an award-winning, certified brand like Lilly+Sid which has a strong ethical foundation, in India. With a robust digital presence, we wish to offer Indian consumers a product line that is sustainable, conscious, and does not compromise on the quality of clothing for children. For us at Norlanka, where we believe that the future of fashion is sustainable, the unique handwriting and the organic story of Lilly+Sid match our philosophy. Our role is to provide the brand with a platform to grow faster. We eliminate the challenges in the system, for example, the working capital for sourcing or buying or giving them resources required to grow the brand. When we say partner, we mean that we take ownership and take care of the licensing agreement. That’s our methodology behind Norlanka Pvt. Ltd.,” maintains GS Periwal, CEO, Norlanka Pvt. Ltd.
The firm takes care of the entire backend procedure including buying, sourcing, managing supply chain, distribution, inventory management, etc.
Lilly+Sid offers t-shirts, shorts, dresses, t-shirt sets, etc. in sizes starting from 0 to 8 years, in the price range of Rs 499-Rs 2,499. While there are a number of kidswear brands in India in the likes of Mothercare, Gini & Jony, FirstCry, Liliput, etc., Lilly+Sid has an advantage over these brands with its organic, sustainable nature.
“No brand in the category is 100 percent sustainable or 100 percent organic, in India. Brands like H&M or Zara have 10-30 percent of their whole collection in the sustainable category. As a conscious and mindful company, Norlanka wishes to blend sustainable wear into the mainstream lifestyle and consistently work on its mission to reduce the adverse impact of using non-sustainable materials on the environment. To this end, Norlanka follows strict protocols in line with the founding pillars of sustainability: ethical sourcing, eco-friendly raw materials, social sustainability, water treatment, waste management, energy efficiency, and responsible supply chain. We, at Norlanka Brands, strongly believe that a truly sustainable venture begins with mindful production as well as the elimination of excess inventories. All of the United Nations’ SDGs are followed and in order to become carbon neutral by 2025, we have already commenced work with manufacturing partners. Investments in the latest technology that allows for 3D Design, Sampling, and Fit will go a step further in making fully immersive yet environment-friendly virtual showrooms for the B2C brands being launched in India by Norlanka,” asserts Ankit Shukla, Country Head - India & Middle East, Norlanka Pvt. Ltd.
The firm is all about getting the first-mover advantage in the Indian market and is focusing on maximizing the lifecycle of its products through thoughtful design features that enable garments to grow with the child through the years. While Norlanka Brands partners with Lilly+Sid as a technology-driven enabler, offering a springboard to the brand in India, the founders Imran and Emma Hassan will focus on product development and design for the Indian consumers in line with what parents across Britain love about Lilly+Sid.
While the brand is currently completely sourcing from India with the country having an advantage over other countries in terms of the quality of organic cotton available and is event exporting to UK, Europe, and other countries the brand is present in, Norlanka is planning to source from other countries as well in the coming months, depending on the product demand.
While it's not a cakewalk for an international brand to enter into the Indian market, especially during the current times and the decision sure had to go through a series of do(s) and don’t(s) and the probable result of going ahead with the acquisition of Lilly+Sid and launching it in India, Norlanka was quite sure of the potential of the brand in the Indian market, with parents and general consumers getting more aware and conscious about sustainable fashion.
Ankit Shukla apprises, “From the government policy point of view, we had a friendly framework. However, Covid was a big challenge. We had difficulty meeting with the right people and enabling the launch of the brand due to the pandemic. Also, due to lockdowns, distributions and getting access to the warehouse was a challenge. Besides these challenges, we pretty much had a good and interesting road till here. We believe that India is going to be a big online market for us considering the Alpha generation. The increase in online penetration due to the pandemic has increased. As far as competition is concerned, India is a competitive market, and we are ready for it. We are currently a digital-only brand and instead of investing in hardcore assets, we want to focus on the newness of the product.”
Norlanka is planning to invest in better technology and offering new experiences to its consumer base and in order to reach the right set of audiences, the firm is looking at leveraging the power of social media and is planning to work with curative influencers and celebrities.
The Road Ahead
Norlanka follows the format wherein it acquires the major stake in the brand and owns it before growing it in the potential market.
“We acquired Lilly+Sid in February 2020 and expanded it to Canada, the US, and India, in 2-3 months. We are also planning to launch it in the Middle East. We are soon launching another 100 percent organic unisex brand for children: Turtle Dove London, in the sustainability space, in India. Norlanka is also focused on bringing other international brands to the Asian markets. Norlanka Brands will provide B2C solutions, through the expertise that Norlanka Manufacturing brings with over ten years of operations in Sri Lanka. As a company with international bandwidth, Norlanka continues to bring in foreign investments to improve the manufacturing capabilities of our business partners through continuous research. The factories include tier-II and tier-III factories, which need support in terms of financing for raw material, etc. Norlanka Brands is a launchpad for brands across the globe to enter India and the South East Asian retail market, by empowering labels with customized homegrown technology solutions. Norlanka enables brands to make a 360degree breakthrough with a powerful combination of technology, elevated products & retail support,” says GS Periwal.
PDS Multinational is a US $ 1.3 billion worth company and Norlanka Brands is part of it with a huge market in the UK and Europe. With the right partnerships, marketing strategies, price points, and product assortment, Norlanka is confident of excelling in the ever-growing Indian retail market.
“We think the brand will do great in the Indian market and might become a Rs 100 crore brand in the coming months. That’s the kind of target we have. We want to make an impact in the Indian consumer market,” concludes GS Periwal