Thursday, August 8, 2013

Raymond's once-popular casual wear brand had started showing signs of fatigue
Designed by Gensler and FRDC
Article by business standard


The influx of apparel brands has taken the count to 200 for consumers to choose from. ColorPlus was one of the earliest entrants, 20 years back. Raymonds bought it out from a Chennai-based company in 2002. It is now Raymond's casual wear brand for men but analysts worry that it might have lost its appeal without anything new to offer over the years. Raymonds has now put in place a plan for overhauling the brand.

An analyst in the know but who did not want to be quoted says, "When it launched it was India's strongest homegrown apparel brand. It used to have an amazing quality product offering but this is not the case today and it has lost its share to other brands."

The new look planned to rejuvenate the brand will see its exclusive stores concentrate on entire looks for its consumers rather than individual items of clothing. The stores will themselves wear a look to highlight its theme of 'Colourful Life'. There will be a system of wardrobes based on collections at the store.

"We earlier tested this format in the south and we have received encouraging response. We have now opened seven to eight stores and by the end of this fiscal plan on opening 25 more stores," says Hetal Kotak, COO of ColorPlus. A feature wall at the ColorPlus stores will have spools of yarn, tying the colorful visual merchandising theme with product-linked props.

The brand has trained its staff to guide customers as style consultants, a model Raymond has tried in its namesake Made-to-Measure stores. "Our representatives will help customers to put a whole look together. They will also give the customer space so that they can look and feel the fabrics and enjoy the experience," explains Kotak.

Stressing on an orchestrated look rather than piecemeal garments, will allow the brand to push its accessories as well, in an effort to increase sales. For now, accessories form a small part of its revenue.

Shoes were launched six months ago and leather bags will be launched at Diwali this year. The bags will be priced upwards of Rs 2,495 and shoes from Rs 4,495. ColorPlus shoes, after being piloted in 30-40 stores, will now be launched across India. The brand also plans on launching eyewear in the near future. It had also tested a sports line six months back and plans to introduce that as well.

"Consumers have responded to the change very well and we are seeing buoyant response. This is showing in the number of order that we have got for our autumn-winter collection and it is at an all-time high which shows that despite tough market conditions we are doing well," Kotak adds.

The change would breathe some freshness to the brand which analysts say has lost its relevance with time. In its heydays, ColorPlus was known for wrinkle-free shirts and chinos which established it as a premium brand and gave it a loyal fan following. "It did help increase Raymond's revenue as it was already an established brand when taken over. But it lost its level of intimacy and momentum. Also, market conditions changed since we moved from a market with 40 brands or so to some 200 brands," says Devangshu Datta, CEO of the retail and consumer consultancy Third Eyesight.

Competition such as Madura Fashion and Lifestyle too has proved tough for Raymond's apparel business, especially its brands such as ColorPlus. Some analysts point out that the brand has also suffered from surplus inventory due to which its summer collection is carried over to the autumn and winter seasons affecting the product offering.

However, its makeover could help matters. "ColorPlus has great recall value and has the potential to become a Rs 1,000-crore brand in the next three years, if Raymond uses the brand value to its advantage. It needs to focus on product quality which ColorPlus consumers associated with when the brand was at its peak," says Prashant Agarwal, joint managing director of Wazir Advisors.

This year Raymond hopes to see a 25 per cent increase in ColorPlus' revenue owing to the change in store format, as well as its extension into accessories. According to sources, the brand's turnover was around Rs 200 crore last fiscal.

Raymond claims that after the trials, customer walk-ins, word-of-mouth and conversions increased, fuelled by the imagery of a refreshed premium brand. How far ColorPlus is able to grant all its exclusive brand outlets on which it depends for majority of its revenue a new retail identity will determine its success.