Interview with Rajiv Nair

Rajiv Nair
Rajiv Nair
Celio Future Fashion Limited
Celio Future Fashion Limited

Individualism is stronger in Europe whereas Indian consumers tend to follow accepted trends.
Rajiv Nair talks about the menswear industry and retailing in India with Mary Christine Joy. Synopsis: Celio is a European menswear brand and is present across 1000 stores in 70 countries. It carries the latest international range in India of smart casual wear, formalwear and accessories through its exclusive standalone stores. Rajiv Nair is the current CEO for Celio Future Fashion Limited, and has an experience of around 18 years in the retail industry. He is responsible for the growth and development of this brand in India, and is working towards making it a premier menswear brand in the country. Excerpts:

Being a leading European brand for menswear, how has the foray into Indian market been for Celio? Why did the Indian market seem attractive enough for the brand?

Celio is a brand which is being built steadily in India over the last 5 years. We now have presence across 90,000 Sq.ft. of retail space including 40 stand alone stores, 120 Shop in Shops with leading departmental stores like Shoppers Stop, Lifestyle, Pantaloons and Central. We have about 7% of our business now coming from ecommerce with leading portals like Myntra, Jabong, Flipkart, Amazon and Shoppers Stop. India is a key market in Asia and the world today. Celio has been exploring the market for over 8 years. Celio has a product line which matches the aspirations of a growing young population in India who is today more aware of global fashion and wants to look and feel good.

How is the Indian market for menswear different from the European market for menswear?

India is a very different market from Europe. For men in Europe, dressing up is a way of life. Indian consumers are more conservative and followers of fashion. Individualism is stronger in Europe whereas Indian consumers tend to follow accepted trends. Indian consumers are brand seekers and like to flaunt brands through overt manisfestations like logos whereas the European customer is more evolved and prefers subtlety.

I would like to quote one your earlier statements on the brand sourcing 53 percent of its requirements from India - "This is a crucial step as it also helps us be flexible to respond to the market needs and helps us de-risk the dollar price movements". Can you explain a bit more about this statement?

We have moved a long way in India sourcing. Over 55% of our products are now sourced in India. This gives us a tremendous leeway in terms of time to market. An import shipment takes between 49-60 days to reach from vendor to warehouse whereas an Indian product takes 5 days. Dollar prices are uncertain and this puts sudden pressures on our costs. We have been able to mitigate this risk with a combination of local sourcing and hedging of forex risks.

The menswear industry in India is growing fast and may soon compete with the women's wear industry in the country. Do you agree with this statement?

In fact, India always was a men's dominant market in the branded segment. I am not counting women's ethnic wear and saree brands. Women's western wear in the branded segment has a long way to catch up with men's branded business.
Published on: 06/10/2014

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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