Celio, a market leader in men's ready-to-wear clothing in France, entered India through a joint venture with the Future Group. Besides France and India Celio has its presence in Europe, Russia, UAE, and Singapore. In a tête-à-tête with Sahiba Sachdev Rajat Luthra, CEO, Celio, reveals the objective behind the JV and what Celio has in store for the Indian customers.
Sahiba Sachdev (SS): Give us an insight into your company in terms of presence, turn-over, and targeted market share etc.
Rajat Luthra (RL): Celio is present in India through 11 exclusive business outlets, both in malls and high streets and over 50 shop-in-shops in large format stores of Lifestyle and Pantaloon. We will be adding 15 more exclusive business outlets this year. Also, the organic growth with shop-in-shops will continue to fuel the expansion plans.
We are targeting to achieve a turnover of Rs 50 crores, this financial year and are looking to be a very meaningful brand in occupying a fair share of Men’s mind and wardrobe as it is too early for us to talk about the market share.
SS: What’s the objective behind partnering with Future Group for entering India?
RL: Celio is present in India through a joint venture with Future Group. Future Group in India is the largest retail group and has the maximum expertise regarding Indian consumer, real estate and has a strong backbone in the form of logistics, IT and training. Hence, this gives a ready platform to Celio to aspire to be as big in India as it is in France.
SS: How do you perceive the Indian customer for your category?
RL: Celio offers a complete wardrobe solution for men. A typical Celio man is 25-35 years old, pleasant-natured, working and living in the city; buys clothes because he’s fashion conscious, without being a slave to fashion. He enjoys nice clothes because he likes to be comfortable.
SS: What are your core strategies to cut through the competition and attract customers? What kind of R&D is done?
RL: Our business strategy is closely related to our customer strategy. We believe in giving our customers the freedom to express themselves with a wide range of styles, the freedom to be fashionable without changing their personality and the freedom to get the best value for their money.
Our business philosophy also includes developing stores and maintaining the quality which corresponds to the brand’s standards. The Celio stores are a perfect expression of the universe of fashion, where the customer feels comfortable and finds everything he/she is looking for.
We increase our reach to the target customers by using a combination of marketing strategies, which features print media, outdoor advertising, direct mailers, catalogue distribution and in-store marketing.
The fashion trends and international styles are studied by our product team in India & France. Together, they see how the best combination is worked out at the time of merchandise selection.
SS: You specialise in sports and casual wear, what difference do you see in Indian designs and your designs in these categories? Is Celio blending the both to suit the Indian preferences?
RL: Sportswear to Celio is its Cargos, Denims, stylish Polos and tees, pullovers, jackets and accessories. These are styled to be worn out-of-doors and on weekend getaways. Our casuals would again include a range of smart shirts, polos and tees, cargos and pullovers, which would form an Indian customer’s wardrobe for an evening dinner.
Our merchandise has a very international styling and we closely follow the global trends in fashion. We are not specifically blending styles, but yes, at the time of selection we see what styles will be preferred more by our Indian customers.
SS: Your store interior includes a ramp, how did this idea come about? Do you think this concept would work in India? Are your design partners Sanguez and Partners also designing your Indian stores, or you have hired an Indian agency for it?
RL: The Celio store’s concept was designed by the well known design agency Saguez and Partners. It is entirely devoted to masculinity and proudly displays the colours and standards of the brand. Red is the primary colour, an element that is immediately associated with Celio. It is combined with black, which reinforces the virility and elegance of the brand.
Sashaying down the long, high central walkway in the stores makes customers experience a catwalk. The lighting meanwhile has been specifically designed to highlight the products. Finally, the clear signage helps customers to find their way easily around the store.
We are working with an Indian architect, but following an International template. Our designs are approved from France.
SS: How are you sourcing your merchandise? Do you have manufacturing facility in India or sourcing it from abroad?
RL: Our merchandise is sourced both locally and globally. We outsource manufacturing of our merchandise in India and abroad with very high quality parameters.
SS: You mainly cater to urban cities, what are your plans about entering tier II and III cities?
RL: Our expansion plans for this year in terms of exclusive business outlets are focused mainly on Metros and we will enter tier II cities in third and fourth year of our operations.
SS: Are you into franchising your outlets or just into company-owned stores?
RL: All our outlets are company owned.