Marks and Spencer (M&S), one of the leading global fashion retailers, has found a strong foothold in India, and has reported double digit growth across its various apparel sections.
M&S formed a joint venture with Reliance Retail in 2008 and the JV currently has 42 stores in 14 cities across the country. They have expanded from the metropolitans to smaller cities like Kanpur, Ludhiana and Baroda. The plan is to open over 80 stores in India by 2016.
“Women’s wear was a small part of our business when we started. But as consumers get more aware of global trends and styles, they are adopting to western wear. There is a definite shift from ethnic wear to western wear. Hence, women’s wear is growing faster than other segments,” Venu Nair, Managing Director, Marks and Spencer Reliance India, said.
“Three years ago, we couldn’t sell women’s shorts where as now they run out. Women’s shapewear in lingerie is now accepted and appreciated by the consumers in India,” he added. “Our shapewear essentially brings in products that help customers feel confident about what they are wearing. A couple of years back, the consumer didn’t really understand what that was but now it keeps running out.”
Nair asserts that innovation is one of the pillars that M&S is building on. The company adopts and adapts to the country they go in. “We tweak our catalogue to meet local requirements. Colour is so much more important in India. So, within the season palette, we add more colours as compared to the rest of the world,” he elaborated.
“Another example is pockets on formal shirts. Most of the formal shirts we sell worldwide don’t have pockets because people wear jackets. Indians don’t necessarily wear jackets on a daily basis. That’s an adaptation we’ve made; having pockets on formal shirts in India.”