Indian retail scene is evolving and vibrant with transitional phase of retail activities propelling its direction from cluttered, unorganised format to a format that is modern and organised, and more acceptable to the global market. The entry of a myriad number of global brands has nudged the development further ahead. The home-grown brands have sportingly accepted the change, and there is a natural tendency for upgradation to stay in the race. In such a vast market, with a large customer base and a huge space that is yet to be explored, retail brands, both home-grown and international, have received immense business opportunity to strengthen their foothold and prove their potential. The growth of organised retail is receiving impetus from mall developments. Malls today provide a more systemic, hassle-free retail experience where a shopper gets taste of all the well-known brands in befitting environment. Some malls are truly playing important roles in connecting brands with the consumers through their seamless planning and overall management. With malls like Express Mall in Chennai, Forum in Bangalore, Pheonix in Mumbai and Select Citywalk in New Delhi, brands are able to reach defined and specific target segments. In addition to shopping comfort, malls are coming up with facilities like multiplexes, huge parking areas, food courts, entertainment and hangout zones, which are helping in creating footfalls. The backdrop is ideal for a brand like Derby to aspire for a bigger dream which is translated in offering world class fashion to the Indian consumers.
The retail domain in India is really conducive for any quality brand to grow, and apparel is the second largest retail category in India, growing at a rate of 15-20 per cent. The Indian consumers being exposed to world fashion seek more. There was a pronounced need for filling this gap. International and national brands sensed the need and the fashion market in the country witnessed some prominent changes with the advent of fast fashion. For Vijay Kapoor, the seed of entrepreneurship perfectly germinated in such a fashion arena. Like many other graduates, Vijay Kapoor started his career by joining a profession that he thought he was best suited for, but the entrepreneur inside him didn’t give him peace and the result was opening of a 200 sq ft tailoring shop. Being himself a fashion lover and with a passion for dressing well, his focus was on men’s wardrobe and impeccable style solution. In no time Derby grew to boast of 30 plus exclusive outlets and 200 plus touch points at multi-brand outlets.
Armed with a strong core team that leaves no stone unturned to keep themselves updated with the industry, market and above all the customers, Derby has a strong presence in southern states and is currently available through exclusive showrooms in Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Cochin and all other major towns in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The brand has grown over the years to establish itself as a prominent brand in its segment. A complete revamp on product profile, marketing strategies, and a new brand positioning are helping Derby become the best casual fashion brand around. Derby is also available at select multi-brand outlets. And plan is there to make its presence in large format stores.
In any retail business choosing a right partner is a big onus for a retailer. However, Kapoor has something different to tell. “To be honest, it has been the other way so far. Multi-brand outlets across south have been choosing us and have been instrumental in our growth during the last many years. We shall ensure our product is available at every multi-brand and family store across the country, which suits our product and brand profile.”
Currently, Derby has 11 franchised showrooms apart from 21 company-owned ones. Its highly successful franchise model helps partner with right minded people and extends a world class business platform to young investors.
World-class facility churns out world-class design
Speaking on how Derby stays abreast of international design, Kapoor reveals, “Our design teams have travelled extensively across all fashion capitals in the world and that has helped the brand make a world class product. The entry of global brands has created awareness about quality and design resulting in a wider acceptance of Derby products. The brand is affordable and its edge in pricing makes Derby’s Denims and Street Wear an ideal choice for fashion conscious youth who otherwise would and have been patronising international labels like Diesel, Jack & Jones, Levi’s, and others.”
Derby has in-house manufacturing facility of 250000 pieces capacity, equipped with 200 hi-tech machinery from Pfaff. Located at Chennai, it employs 400 staffs, and has dedicated units for embroidery and printing-capacity of over 1 million pieces per annum. However, Derby outgrew its production capacities long ago and has since tied up with some of the best names in garments manufacturing. An additional production capacity will be added by March 2012 to cater to private labels for large format stores and exports.
A new category in Denim
Sociological changes, the intense urge for leading a fast life and some integral components of nowadays life, like international brands, Internet, 3G mobiles, Bollywood, Hollywood, celebrity endorsements, are making substantial contributions towards fashion and expectations of quality-conscious customers. This trend is helping brands like Derby to flourish, which have chosen to bring fast fashion to India. The shift from formals to casuals has also meant the re-emergence of denim and success of street wear in our country. Derby has been able to create a new category in denims.
Derby Denims, offering international fittings, is a fashionable denim line maintaining international standards and innovations, which are manufactured at some of the best denim production facilities in India. This collection is well complimented by its street wear range of shirts, T-Shirts and accessories. Every design has a specific look that stays as true to the brand promise as possible.
The buzz is always around
The brand explores various time-relevant marketing tools to enhance visibility in the market and connection with the customers. Derby especially focuses on social networking sites like facebook and twitter. To keep on the buzz around, Derby participates at cultural events at colleges. Besides, the brand is also present in print and online media, including fashion and youth magazines, fashion shows and cross promotion. On marketing strategy, Kapoor emphasises, “We have ensured that we offer value for money to our customers. We are still an affordable brand when compared to the global labels, while we bring the same quality and design sensibilities into our products. Also a profitable business proposition for our franchisees, dealers and business associates has helped us to grow and emerge as a leader in denims and street wear.”
Derby does conduct an end of season sale once every year. “It is a global norm and helps us offer wider choices to our customers during the year. It also helps us reach wider section of people. Discount sales are generally looked at as a liquidating exercise and may not necessarily mean profits in accounting vocabulary”, Kapoor asserts.
Dream beyond the country shore
“We are excited about our entry into Mumbai and Delhi. We have set ourselves a target of 50 more stores in the western and northern regions by the end of calender year 2011. Our flagship stores in Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Chandigarh and other major towns will be operational by March 2011. We aspire to be the first truly global fashion brand from the country. We are also planning to launch the brand outside the country by the year 2012. Our strategy to make it a reality is in place. Quality and innovations form the backbone of this strategy. Derby, by the year 2015, will be successfully established in all the fashion capitals of the world and will have a strong retail presence in the Middle East and South East Asian countries by 2013.”
Leaving a mark in other categories
On brand extension, Kapoor says that the first natural and immediate extension will be into accessories for men like bags, sunglasses, footwear, etc. “Our foray into women’s wear and kid’s wear is on cards too, but will materialise only after due research and development. We are in no hurry and have lots to do in men’s fashion before any extensions. However, Derby shop-in-shops are being opened in family stores helping us to reach the family customer base.”
Bypassing the challenges
Challenges, for Kapoor, act as stimuli to work harder keeping up excitement alive in whatever he does. Challenges are test on tenacity. “We have overcome every obstacle by carefully studying and understanding our customer base and markets. The challenges brought in by the entry of global fashion brands in India has by far been the most inspiring one for us and has helped us improve on our infrastructure, systems, quality, design, innovations and overall brand management”, Kapoor states.
Derby is involved with various NGOs for a long time now. Education for the underprivileged is its priority. Derby works with similar minded vendors and business associates, and sources raw materials from NGOs wherever possible. Eco-friendly products and packaging, LED lighting system, minimal use of water and air conditioning are some other practices that Derby follows stringently.
Retail training: another focus
Derby is setting up a retail training academy in Chennai to fill up the need for trained retail personnel who will be capable of offering adept customer services. On this Vijay Kapoor informs, “We are keen on providing a world class shopping experience and also in adding value to many young lives helping them create a great career in fashion retailing. We have dedicated a huge space for this purpose at our upcoming corporate office and the academy will be functional in a couple of months.”
A Warm hug to FDI
With the growth of the company, the natural realisation is that some areas like logistics, training, real estate values, etc need immediate attention. Kapoor is also upbeat about the prospect of FDI in multi-brand retail. “Every industry has benefited by FDI relaxations. We are sure it will be allowed at the right time. We shall deal with it as it comes. We are as excited about it as other brands and are looking forward”, he opines. Kapoor confesses it is the team that is the core asset of the company. “And my dream of creating a world class team is taking shape. And I shall rest only when everything is ‘perfect’”, he concludes.