Bringing innovation to the Indian home textile market, Maishaa a bed linen and luxury home furnishing brand has created its niche in the retail industry. Arun Garg, President, A K Retail Inc, the company behind the brand, in talks with Neha Malhotra, throws some light on the brand’s retail expedition.
Neha Malhotra (NM): Brief us about the inception and growth of Maishaa.
Arun Garg (AG): We entered into home furnishing market in 2007, we have been in the home accessory / adornment industry since 1999. During 2006-07, there came a desire to expand the business portfolio, we studied the trends and categories and noticed that there was a huge gap in the luxury home textile industry, probably it did not exist, India was pre-dominated with mass and medium end brands and products and there was not even a single indigenous luxury home textile player selling high end bed linen or furnishing fabrics. That's where the idea came from, which was followed by our association with our Thai partners and then the brand launch with bed linen collection in India in 2007 and furnishing fabric collection in 2008.
NM: What challenges did you face initially?
AG: The challenge was only the price, the designs, the quality and the concept was highly appreciated but the prices were difficult to get accepted specially in an industry, which was flooded with a number of brands selling at a drastically lesser retail price than us, but we were confident about the quality and innovation in fibre done by us, which needed to be explained to the customer to make them understand the price variation.
NM: How many stores do you have at present?
AG: As of now we have four exclusive brand outlets ranging from 1000 sq. ft to 2200 sq. ft and we look forward for another 20 plus outlets this year covering major cities in India.
NM: What product offerings are available to the customers?
AG: We recently launched a limited edition line of bed linen set made with a blend of silk & cotton with a 1500 thread count (done for the first time by any brand internationally in this composition). We would be launching a 100 per cent Supima cotton line with 1000 TC next month with mercerized finish; the feel and finish of the collection is as soft as silk. We are also working on a new line of printed bed linen in 100 per cent cotton fabric.
AG: How do you see the advent of international retail brands to India, is it a boon or a threat?
NM: We have target customers who are loyal to our products so the coming of international brands to the Indian market has not affected us.
AG: How is the designing and manufacturing aspect taken care of at Maishaa?
NM: All Maishaa products are designed and manufactured at their partner facilities in Bangkok, Thailand. They have an integrated production facility spread over an area of 640,000 sq. m over a land parcel of 150 acres. Right from yarn processing to stitching and packing all processes are done in-house using some of the best machines and technology available.
AG: Who are your target audiences? What marketing initiatives have you taken to enhance footfalls at your stores?
NM: Anybody who loves his home and wants to enjoy being home is our customer, typically SEC A and A+ segment is our target customer, majorly in metropolitan cities. However, we have had a great success in non metro cities in developing states like UP, MP followed by Gujrat and Punjab. Our innovative products, themselves, pull customers to our stores, though we do focus on marketing as well.
AG: What innovations has Maishaa introduced to the Indian home furnishing market?
NM: Maishaa has done many innovations in the home furnishing industry as most of our bed linen comes with anti bacteria or sanitized effects, they are Formaldehyde-free and our key micro fiber lines are wrinkle-free too. We do not give stain repellent treatment to all fabrics but do it as per customers’ demand. Most of our upholstery fabrics are water repellent.
AG: What are the future prospects of the Indian home furnishing market in India?
NM: The future of Indian home furnishing is very bright and a lot can be done in this industry.
AG: What are Maishaa's expansion plans in the near future?
NM: For Maishaa as a brand, we would be expanding our network through exclusive brand stores and dedicated brand counters at MBO's. As mentioned earlier, we have extended our product portfolio and launched a limited edition line of bed linen set in India and Thailand. It would be rolled out internationally in September 2010. We are also working on a new line of bed linen and also an exclusive line of furnishing fabrics using high tech yarns.