Interview with Rakesh Pandey

Rakesh Pandey
Rakesh Pandey
President – Retail & Business Development
Raymond Limited
Raymond Limited

Indian consumers are cost-conscious, as well as they have become more inclined to quality specifications...
With Fibre2Fashion Correspondent Cindrella Thawani, Rakesh Pandey tells that Indian apparel players have managed to perform strongly and grow at exponential rates. Synopsis: Raymond, a plush brand for premium suiting in the world, producing nearly 20,000 designs and colours of suiting fabric that have found their way in over 55 countries. Its tagline defines its work ‘The Complete Man’. Moreover, the brand caters to the different faces of man—who is caring, sensitive and places a huge premium on relationships. Rakesh Pandey is the President of Retail & Business Development, Raymond Limited. Prior to joining Raymond, he was the Chief Executive Officer at Kaya Ltd, since its inception in 2002. He is a B. Tech (Honours) in Chemical Engineering from IITBHU. Besides, he has also attended a Global Programme on Management Development at the University of Michigan (USA). Excerpts:

Branded apparel industry has a prodigious growth rate. Hence several leading textile bigwigs are entering into the market for their retail outlets. How do you see the upcoming market scenario and how it will affect the existing branded outlets?

The apparel industry has witnessed a spate of changes relating to consumer buying in recent years. With a wide choice of branded offerings from both national and international players, consumers today have become extremely brand-conscious and are particular in terms of their choice of brands. In this context, it is imperative for brand players to innovate and remain competitive in the marketplace. Even strong players require innovative product and marketing ideas / initiatives to garner the attention of the today's consumer. As seen in the recent past, the white space offered by smaller markets will continue to fuel the growth for brands. However, not just in small markets, even in large towns, existing outlets will need to offer an experience that would lead consumers to come back to the store.

Moreover, how do you see domestic retail brands playing a challenging role to attract its consumers in the context of several international players vying for Indian consumer interest?

Despite competition from their global counterparts, Indian apparel players have managed to perform strongly and grow at exponential rates. Prominent Indian brands are thus equipping themselves for this competitive market place by creating new contemporary designs for the products, reaching out to newer markets, and delivering a “WOW” ‘shopping experience’. All of this is aimed at retaining their positions in the market and in consumer minds.

Raymond has created its legacy so far into its quality. How far it is significant to sustain your excellence/gilt-edge with the ongoing age, along with some new trends?

Indian consumers are cost-conscious, and consumers have become more inclined to quality specifications as well as are ready to spend more for a superior quality product and service. Raymond has been extremely conscious in delivering such high quality offerings to its consumers thus making its customer relationships longstanding and memorable.

How do you see the preferences and choices of the consumers in metros and smaller cities? How are you planning to expand your footprint into the smaller towns as well as in the Tier cities?

Times are changing at a rapid pace, and the gap between the choices of consumers in metros and smaller towns is fast decreasing. Today, consumers in smaller towns are trying to follow the fashion forecast set by their urban male counterparts both in India and abroad. Media exposure, increasing levels of education and travel opportunities to overseas markets are some factors contributing to this trend. Aspiration levels in smaller cities are no less than those in metros. Raymond realized this trend fairly early and thus spearheaded industry expansion to Tier 3/4/5 towns. Today, this segment contributes significantly to our growth story, and almost every large industry player is following the Raymond footprints into small towns. We would continue expanding our footprint in smaller markets, while maintaining focus on the metro markets.

Today, price hike is becoming a norm. In this scenario consumers are getting smarter with their choices with the cost and quality of the product. According to you what should be the starting price of the shirt as well as trousers?

Entry price for these product categories differs across consumer types. The Raymond Group caters to such a wide spectrum of consumers and their needs through its varied brands that cut across price points. The company has demonstrated and proven its expertise in delivering high quality products at price points relevant to a larger consumer base.

According to you, which age-group/generation contributes more on purchasing? Please interpret.

As is commonly said by most of our consumers, “the first Suit in one’s life has to be a Raymond suit”, the Raymond brand enters its consumers’ life very early on. However, the brand’s consumers are well spread across all age groups. Right from a wardrobe for the first job to the wedding suit until the wedding in the next generation, Raymond has remained the first choice. India is one of the youngest markets in the world, with more than 65 percent of its population slated to be less than 35 years of age by 2020. Moreover, it is apparent that the youth will define market dynamics in the future, as they will have the real purchasing power and a keen inclination to experiment in their choice of apparel, given the wide variety of brand choices.

You have a strong consumer connection with your brand and so with your retail outlets, which are growing eminently. What makes your grip so strong in market as well into the heart of consumers?

Raymond has been the first choice for its consumers for more than eight decades. It has established a strong emotional connect with them through sustained efforts to understand their clothing needs and providing superior quality products and services in response. In addition, it reaches out to consumers across over 300 towns through a strong retail network of more than 650 stores, ensuring consumers access to our quality offerings as well as excellence and commitment to deliver high quality products to the consumer that have helped Raymond maintain their leadership position all through the years. Raymond enjoys the image of being a brand, which has the distinction of having 6 out of 10 consumers in its target group recalling it as the first brand. Spontaneous recall is almost 10 on 10. This is 2 to 2.5 times better than our closest competitors.
Published on: 29/08/2012

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