Interview with Mr Kewalchand P Jain,

Mr Kewalchand P Jain,
Mr Kewalchand P Jain,
Kewal Kiran Clothing Limited (KKCL)
Kewal Kiran Clothing Limited (KKCL)

Beginning its journey on Indian fashion apparel course just 3 decades ago, Kewal Kiran Clothing Limited (KKCL) has evolved as one of the highly reckoned brand factories today. In small span of its inception, the Group was able to launch ‘Killer’- today’s power brand that enjoys the leadership position in the premium menswear in India. Soon reaping its grand success in land and in UAE, the company added another range of brands viz ‘easies’, ‘Lawman Pg3’, and ‘Intergriti’ which brought accolades to company across the poles. Welcoming this huge success in apparel market, KKCL forayed into retail arena with launch of ‘K-lounge’ stores in year 2004. Today K-Lounge and EBOs has pan-India presence with over 160 outlets in the entire country. Backed by workforce of around 1800 employees, the Group’s financial year ended 31st March, 2010, depicts the sales and operating income to be rupees 175.28 crores representing a growth of 21% and net profit after tax to be rupees 32.52 crores, representing a growth of 128% over the previous year. Born in 1962, Mr Kewalchand P Jain, CMD-KKCL, supported by his three brothers, is the guiding star of this Conglomerate. He decided to join the business at an early age after completing school. He learnt the business on the job and spearheaded the groups’ foray into branded apparel business. A keen student of finance and a hands-on management, he heads the finance functions of the company and is responsible for the overall managerial affairs of the company. Mr Jain is a trustee of Jatnobai Karmchandji Ratanparia Chauhan Charitable Trust. He is also the treasurer of Shree Jain Vyapar Udyog Seva Sansthan. In a discourse on the subject, Mr Kewalchand Jain speaking with Ms Madhu Soni, Sr Editor & Correspondent- Face2Face, highlights vital points about Apparel sector and Branding in India.

Mr Jain, it is pleasure to host a talk with you. You have been in industry since 1981. In this span, how much has the apparel market grown? What are the major changes that have happened in the apparel market? How has KKCL adapted to these changes and reengineered to this new needs?

Pleasure for me too!

During this span of 30 years, with increase in population and rising income levels, readymade garments has seen robust growth with more consumers preferring to have ready-to-wear instead of ready-to-stitch. With international brands entering into Indian market in early nineties and revolution in media of mass communication there is increasing trend for branded apparels against private labels. Around 85% of apparel market is in unorganized sector and only 15% is organized. With rising education standards, income levels and increase in number of youngsters, I forsee a great potential for branded apparel market in India.

Kewal Kiran has always thrust on continuous creations, innovations, product development, visual merchandising, advertisement campaigns in pace with fashion trends and on strong foundation of financial strength.

Historically, the men’s apparel market in India has been believed to be significantly larger than the women’s apparel market. How true it is?

Historically, it is the women’s wear that has been the focus of the markets. The men’s wardrobe had been limited. However with information explosion of the late 70s, and the changing economic environment, the variety in the men’s wardrobe has considerably increased. Since the late 80s, western wear for women has become an acceptable wear for the college students and newer professions that have emerged in our country.Now with the increasing demand for men’s wear there is an increase in the demand for branded women’s wear. Fashion changes every season and this fashion changes with the consumer demands. While the branded men’s apparel market is at an advanced state of organized business, the womens apparel market in our country is growing faster. The change in pattern is more due to adoption of modern western wear with the demands of the roles and professions. With the increase in number of working women and rising income levels and cultural shift in favour of western outfits due to information media, now there is increasing trend for women branded apparels.

According to a recent study by Mckinsey, Indian apparel prices have doubled over the last decade, and tend to be 25 to 30 percent higher than in China as a result of supply chain inefficiencies. What measures should be taken to become competitive in this context?

For good quality, Indian products are more competitive than Chinese products. It is only for low value items, China is cheaper than India. Undeniably, there is lot of scope of improvement in infrastructures, state of art technology equipment and conducive government policies.

Tell us please the cause imperative for building K-Lounge stores? What are your core marketing strategies?

K-Lounge is a retail chain concept entailing area of 800-1200 Sq ft, which showcases and markets all the products of all the brands of KKCL. Going forward after having wide recognition and greater popularity, K-Lounge stores may be scaled up as mega K-Lounge stores akin to department stores.

Offering high quality branded fashion apparels and life style accessories at competitive price through memorable customer experience has been key marketing strategy.

What dissimilarities you find among Indian customers and American customers? What are your USPs against other players in the market?

There is vast difference in climatic conditions between USA. and India. Due to low temperature in USA, consumption is higher as compared to India. Further per capita income is lower in India as compared to USA., hence major Indian customers are value buyers and as a result realization per garment is lower in India.

All our four brands, KILLER, Lawman Pg3, Integriti and Easies are owned by the Company, unlike other international players where it is owned by their parent Company outside India they have to incur licence fee. KKCL owns over 2 lakhs sq ft of manufacturing facilities spreaded at Daman, Vapi, Goregaon and Vapi. Our per garment financial cost is lower due to less leveraging and offer low cost entrepreneurship. All these factors contribute in optimizing the product cost and ward off any competition.

To beat the competition from similar brands with low price, what strategies are applied by KKCL?

The market size is huge and all competent players have enough space to expand. However KKCL has always believed in profitable and sustainable growth, hence market all our branded apparels at a price point which is commercially viable irrespective of peer group. It is not possible to sell at low price while working in organized sector where cost of full compliance is also to be endured. We choose to withdraw from competition instead of price war, which in long run has proved a beneficial strategy.

Based on your experience and success in having given some of the strong brands to market, what are the main points that you would recommend to a new entrepreneur for considering before launching an apparel brand?

'Fashion is Passion' and brand creation is like nurturing an Oak tree, you plant it today and wait for at least 2-3 decades for lucrative outcome. One should be financially very strong and with deep pockets, if wants to grow faster. This is important that one should not diversify in other unrelated businesses and plough back resources for developing the brand. This is of paramount importance that one should remain fully occupied for development of one’s branding business and have patience for reaping the fruits.

High-end apparel brands have for sure noticed the importance of activities beyond just business. How about KKCL?

Branding is a science and not simply commerce. At KKCL, we always strive for product development through research and development and market innovations for ensuring customer satisfaction and memorable experience. Presently we target mid-upper segment, in future we shall further scale up innovations, creations, visual merchandising, advertisement campaigns by employing higher resources.


Published on: 06/12/2010

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