Interview with Mr Abhinav Zutshi

Face2Face
Mr Abhinav Zutshi
Mr Abhinav Zutshi
Business Head, International Brands -Lifestyle Retail
Wadhawan Group
Wadhawan Group

Fashion industry for Indian as well as International brands is poised for high growth.

Wadhawan Group is promoted by the Wadhawan Family to pursue their business interests in diversified verticals like Food Retail, Hospitality, Hotels and Resorts, Lifestyle Retailing, Education, Financial Services and Real Estate. Wadhawan Group was founded by the Late Mr Dewan Kuldip Singh Wadhawan in 1973 for the purpose of land aggregation, development & management and construction. It is today, run by Kapil Wadhawan and Dheeraj Wadhawan the third generation Wadhawans. Mr Abhinav Zutshi, Business Head, International Brands, Wadhawan Lifestyle Retail Pvt. Ltd is responsible for developing the international brands division of the company and is instrumental in bringing acclaimed international brands such as Ed Hardy, Christian Audigier and Adolfo Dominguez to India. His expertise and knowledge in the retail business goes over 13 years. He has great experience in setting up new businesses across various retail formats ranging from hypermarkets to department stores and international brands. Under his leadership, international brands Ed Hardy and Christian Audigier have grown to achieve cult status in India. Ed Hardy brand has opened seven new outlets in the 2010-11 fiscal year alone with the help of strategic tie-ups and partnerships with malls across India. Prior to working with Wadhawan Lifestyle Retail Pvt. Ltd., Mr Zutshi spent several years with Piramyd Retail Limited, where he re-launched the Private Labels Division. Before Piramyd Retail Limited, he worked with Tata Retail Enterprise (TRENT) where he developed the blueprint for the apparel business at Star Bazaar, which delivers value for money products with a strong focus on revenue. He was also part of the core team functional for ERP implementation – SAP at TRENT, which was eventually included in the SOPs for the business. Before joining at TRENT, he managed and expanded the kidswear business for the Big Bazaar chain of hypermarkets from the Future Group. During this tenure, Mr Zutshi was extensively involved with the store set up and space planning for new Big Bazaar businesses. He is an alumnus of the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Bangalore. He holds a Master’s Degree in Zoology and is a Certified External Assessor for the Tata group of companies through their Tata Business Excellence Management (TBEM) program. Mr Abihnav Zutshi, talking with Ms Madhu Soni, Sr Editor & Correspondent-Face2Face, enlightens Indian Lifestyle

Wadhawan Group is in the diverse lines of operations viz Housing Finance, Food & Beverages, Hospitality, Education, and Real Estate. It makes me curious to know the rationale behind your group’s foray in textile sector. How do you visualize its positioning in lifestyle retail?

Yes, Wadhawan Group is a diversified company with Wadhawan Lifestyle Retail Private Limited (WLRPL) as its lifestyle retail arm. WLRPL was established with a single minded vision of introducing global high-end fashion brands, relevant to the Indian consumer and markets. The initiative of the company is to primarily license global premium brands into India along with incubating original brands in new categories.

How will you comment on current retail environment in apparel category?

Organized retail is growing at a rapid pace and with the development of new malls and high streets; we see that the fashion industry for Indian as well as international brands is poised for high growth. We believe there is a lot of untapped potential and we are very bullish about the market in the future.

Where lies the difference/s between lifestyle retail versus garment retail amongst Indian consumers?

Lifestyle brands cater to a specific set of consumers, who are evolved in their sensibilities and shopping patterns, what this means is that lifestyle consumers are highly conscious about brand image, quality, service, etc and therefore are the pioneers of a better shopping experience. They are also experimentative and open to new fashion and trends.

What remark would you put against the current excise duty on branded wear?

This would affect products manufactured in India. For importers like us the impact is negligible.

For the sector, what awaits in the proposed GST implementation?

This would help streamline many processes for us.

Generally, retailers augment their presence into womenswear or menswear line. But kidswear has a lot of scope, what say?

Yes, we agree. It is a good category with high potential.

Your group recently introduced Spanish designer- Adolfo Dominguez on its offering bouquet. What are developments on this front?

We have recently launched the brand with a strong presence in the capital, strategically located at Ambience Mall, Vasant Kunj. This is an ideal location in terms of footfall and has also found the best fit in terms of retail space and brand positioning. Subsequently we look at opening 2 more stores in the first year itself, with immediate focus being the metro cities. In all, we look at opening 25 stores in the next 5 years, targeting key tier I & II cities.

Branding for an apparel product has definitely a process involved. Has a retail franchisee like your group any role to play in this?

We try as a franchisee to be as close to international formats of stores as well as provide similar merchandise to retain the brand identity here.

Many thanks for your valued comments, Mr Zutshi!

Pleasure is mine.

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Published on: 09/05/2011

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.