COVID-19 Impact: Key Learnings & Future Course of Action for Retailers
Images Retail|July 2020
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COVID-19 Impact: Key Learnings & Future Course of Action for Retailers
The last of the weekly ‘Retail Panchayat’ webinar series – in an unrestrained style with candid, insightful conversations on people, processes, practices, ideas, outlooks and learnings in retail – threw up insights on business models, innovation culture, people and products and customer service orientation.

India’s retail sector is one of the largest employers in the country with almost 46 million people working in the industry. With the onset of the pandemic and as retail businesses continue to be deeply damaged by the ongoing COVID-19 and economic crisis, a large number of these employees – a vast majority of who come from middle-income and lower-income salaried classes from across India’s urban, peri-urban and rural heartlands – have lost their livelihoods and futures.

IMAGES Group and TRRAIN have shifted focus during this pandemic to this lower income group. Through the Retail Panchayat platform, the two organisations are working closely to support the most vulnerable of our human resources, retail’s foot soldiers.

The last of the weekly ‘Retail Panchayat’ webinar series – in an unrestrained style with candid, insightful conversations on people, processes, practices, ideas, outlooks and learnings in retail – threw up insights on business models, innovation culture, people and products and customer service orientation.

The webinar was co-hosted by B S Nagesh, Founder, TRRAIN and Amitabh Taneja, CMD, IMAGES Group.

The guest speakers included:

Ishwar Chugani, MD & CEO,

Giordano Middle East (FZE) Rahul Singh, Founder & CEO, The

Beer Cafe Shailesh Chaturvedi, MD & CEO,

Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein India

Journey of Giordano

Amitabh Taneja, CMD, IMAGES Group started the conversation by putting a question to Ishwar Chugani, MD & CEO, Giordano Middle East (FZE) asking him that a lot of Indian manufacturers, garment brands and apparel companies used to go to Hong Kong to source fashion and would then tell everyone back home in India that Giordano has 10 stores on the same street. “I would like to know why 10 stores on one street. Aside from this, please also tell us how you have grown in terms of company and business and also share the total number of stores.”

“I will answer the latter part first. Giordano will be turning 40 next year. Today, we are present in 35 countries and we operate 2,200 stores globally. It is a public-owned company from Hong Kong. I started as a franchise and the brand asked me to look after it globally. I am also on their board and a management committee advisor with Chairman and two other Directors that look at the global strategy of the group,” said Ishwar Chugani, MD & CEO, Giordano Middle East (FZE).

“A lot of changes have taken place in the last 20 years, but the brand remains true to itself. We are still everyday essentials. We provide what customers need and what they are looking for. It is also a brand which has always tried to offer pricing within affordable limits. In markets like Pakistan and Bangladesh, we have done really well. You must be wondering why not in India. India was very tough to crack. For me it was a biggest learning that you cannot sell in India till you make in India and you cannot treat India as one country, you need to treat it as different countries because of every area - North, South East and West. I learned that many years ago, but sometimes it was very difficult to run in India by remote controls sitting in Dubai. Now as things have started moving, manufacturing has started, we have a licensee in place, stores have started to open post lockdown, we have a team on board, hopefully, this is one market which we will see grow post COVID. Things are already in place,” he added.

Talking about the brand further, he said, “As a group, we continue to grow. One of the biggest learning that I had is that COVID-19 started in China and Hong Kong where we had most of our stores, so we already had a lot of insights that prepared us when COVID-19 came to our other markets. We were already aware of what the situation would be how bad it could be.

Answering the first question, he said, “Yes, we used to have 10 stores on the same street in the past but as the real estate grew and online grew we reduced it to 2-3 stores in the same area. In Saudi Arabia, we have 7 stores within 2 minute walk. They all work well as each of the stores basically has a different story to tell but everybody still knows that it is a Giordano store. You might have all white Polo T-shirts in one store or black Polo T-shirts in another store. It all depends on the customers. Saudi, especially in the downtown area, you have people from all over the world, so you have to look at need of all the customers. I do not think that this approach might not work moving forward. Now, it is going to be more about quality, location and online. A lot of our stores we can be now readjusted to be more of a showroom or a pick-up point or click-and-collect point.”

“Our best performing store is in Mecca doing a per square ft sale of US$ 500,” he added.

What Makes Tommy Hilfiger Products Stand Out from Others

Shifting the conversation along, Taneja asked Shailesh Chaturvedi, MD & CEO, Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein India that there is something different about Tommy Hilfiger products as they really stand out. Why hasn’t India been to create a product like that?

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July 2020