Interview with Vasanth Kimar, Executive Director, Max Fashions, Landmark Group India
How would you define the current momentum of the retail sector in Asia?
Organised retail which is already growing at a healthy 20% CAGR over the past decade is further set to expand thanks to the e-commerce players and omnichannel initiatives by brick and mortar brands in the market.
The Asian customers are exposed to more and more global trends aided by international travel and internet communication. This gives impetus to consumption of aspirational products and services. Consumer electronics, fashion, and homeware industry are likely to benefit the most from this trend in the retail sector.
At the same time, the expectations from customers have risen dramatically, making it challenging for the companies to address it really well.
Where are the growth areas for the retail sector in Asia?
We are in fashion space and the penetration of organised retail is barely 30% as of now. Hence there are opportunities to increase the market penetration across the country. This is being planned through both expansion of bricks and mortar stores into new cities/catchments and also leveraging the eCommerce channel. The other opportunity is to offer "exclusive products" sourced from international markets - for which the existing customers are willing to pay premium.
What are the challenges and issues?
The rising expectations of consumer needs and service levels. At the same time, the entry of new players /competitors with deep pockets - while it expands the marketplace it also fragments the market share. Consequently, this puts pressure on profitability which needs to be balanced all the time.
Max, a division of Dubai based retail giant Landmark Group., has pioneered the concept of Value Fashion Retailing in the country. Launched in 2004, Max is today the Largest Value fashion brand across 18 countries with over 250 stores and combined Turn Over of USD 1.3 Billion. As head of Max’s Indian operations, Vasanth is currently spearheading the brand’s aggressive growth plans in India and Max is already the largest brand in the segment with over 110 stores across 45 cities in India with T.O of INR 1400 Cr in 2014-15. Vasanth reports to Mr. Ramanathan, Director, Landmark Gulf Group of Companies based in Dubai.
With an illustrious marketing career spanning 25 years, Vasanth has a rich and diverse career in Marketing, Sales and Retail Management in the Apparel, FMCG and Consumer Durable industries in India. Vasanth Kumar started his career with a sales & marketing stint in a Consumer Goods company where he handled various marketing campaigns and product launches.
He has also spent a decade with an Apparel Major handling their Premium brand portfolio as Vice President. He has successfully launched one of the largest selling Apparel Brands in the Value segment during his stint with the company. In Feb 2005, he joined the Landmark Gulf Group as President, Max Retail Division, Lifestyle International – headquartered in Bangalore and moved up to become the Executive Director of the brand. Vasanth has an M. Tech from IIT, Madras and a PGDBM (MBA – Marketing & Finance) from XLRI, Jamshedpur.