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Yogesh Tiwari, Vice President – Sales & Marketing, Blackberrys is spearheading the Sales & Marketing aspects of Blackberrys. Armed with 22 years in FMCG, Durables and Apparels, he has incorporated profound knowledge in strategizing marketing promotional plans Blackberrys, thereby achieving highest grades in quality management system. He is also the chief architect in changing Blackberrys perception as a lifestyle brand with considerable focus on Suit category and spurs the company’s constant experimentation for providing exceptional apparels. An Alumnus of Narsee Monjee Institute, Mumbai, Mr. Tiwari was the Sr. Vice President with S.Kumars and Marketing Consultant for renowned apparel brands like Ruff Kids to name a few.
Sunil Goklani, Vice President- Retail, Blackberrys, is an MBA graduate and spearheads the retail operations at ‘Blackberrys’. With an experience of 18 years in the Fashion Retail sector, Mr. Goklani has taken the brand to a new level since he joined Blackberrys in the year 2007.
He honed his management skills in the business of fashion which kick-started in the year 1994 with Yonex as Manager- Sales & Promotion.
Blackberrys completed 20 years of redefining fashion and style in India with their innovative creations. Over the years Blackberrys has attained a reputation of being a leading men’s formal wear brand in India. Renowned for its impeccably designed garments, today they are the single largest suits and trousers brand in the country. The Blackberrys wardrobe consists of Dress Line Trousers, Khakis, Shirts, Suits, Jackets and Accessories. All the ingredients in the wardrobe of the fashion forward Indian male. Earlier this year, Blackberrys announced the launch of the Blackberrys Sharp Nights concept. This Autumn Winter saw the concept get bigger with ‘Directors-cut’. Currently Blackberrys is present through 150 exclusive branded outlets and is looking at aggressive growth across Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities. Blackberrys is also present through 900 plus up-market multi branded outlets.
Replying to Anil Mascarenhas of IIFL, Yogesh Tiwari says, “Today, all norms in dressing up are being challenged and the consumer is constantly pushing the envelope – therefore formal wear is getting more dressed up and fun elements are creeping into plain staid formalwear.”
Give us a brief overview of the men’s premium formal and casual wear industry.
The total branded apparel market is about $5 Billion (about Rs.26000 crores) out of which men’s is 70% & premium end is 22%. Thus premium menswear therefore, should be pegged at approximately 4000 crores. The category is growing and is very promising for formal and semi formal players.
Its interesting to however, note the evolution of the consumer. We are increasingly seeing that the lines between formal wear and casual wear are blurring and this is reflecting in the customer’s preferences of fashion. Today, all norms in dressing up are being challenged and the consumer is constantly pushing the envelope – therefore formal wear is getting more dressed up and fun elements are creeping into plain staid formalwear.
Blackberrys has been in this space for sometime now and we are seeing this connect to our consumers very well.
Tell us about Blackberrys Sharp Nights (BSNs) 0.2, this season presents Directors Cut. From “Sharp. Smooth. Sure.” you moved to “Go Sharp”. How has the “Go Sharp” look done for your brand.
Earlier this year, Blackberrys announced the launch of the Blackberrys Sharp Nights concept. The Sharp Nights concept is a celebration of the values of “Sharp” men from various walks of life.
It is our way of recognizing these sharp men. Season 1, saw Actor- Director- Singer, Farhan Akhtar walk the ramp for us at the Spring summer collection launch. This Autumn Winter saw the concept get bigger with ‘Directors-cut’. Four new age directors – Imtiaz Ali, Madhur Bhandarkar, Kunal Kohli & Rohit Shetty – brought the action live on stage in mumbai as they sizzled the ramp together in an all new ‘Avatar’.
This concept comes in the wake of our new tagline, Go Sharp, which is the articulation of the brand philosophy. Its one of the most powerful taglines we have today, these 2 words convey the essence of the brand which fortunately translates into the attitude of the young today. We are seeing good cut throughs with this tagline and we foresee this to just be the start.
You’ve done some ramp walk with Director’s Cut. To what extent have you succeeded in making the brand stand out?
As mentioned earlier, Blackberrys Sharp Nights is an endeavor to recognize the sharpest men across various walks of life. We felt, these 4 directors – Imtiaz Ali, Madhur Bhandarkar, Rohit Shetty and Kunal Kohli have been key in shaping Indian cinema as we know it today. They are known for their intellectuality and creativity. We brought these 4 pillars of cinema together on one platform and recognized them as Sharp. We believe, Blackberrys succeeded in bringing out their distinctive style statement through this association.
Could you cite some of the noticeable gains you have achieved in the business?
We are by far the largest suit and trouser brand in the country and are fast moving towards the most preferred brand in the fashion space. Large part of it is due to our expansion of stores, we will be closing this year at 190 brand outlets by the end of FY 12-13. At a turnover of 540 Crores (FY 2011-12), Blackberrys registered a growth of 40% CAGR over a period of 5 years.
What are your capex plans for the year? How would they be funded?
We constantly upgrade capacities be it for product or logistics and have enough internal acumen to fund them.
What steps are you taking to expand your offerings? Comment on what is your positioning in the apparel segment.
We would deepen our offering in the current segment as well as look at expanding our relevance in customer’s lives for other usage occasions.
Brief us on your financials. What is the outlook?
We have grown on a compounded CAGR at a 40%. We closed on a topline of a 540 crores FY 11-12.
Down the line you shut down your women’s range. Any plans to revive the same?
We took stock of our strengths some time back & came to the conclusion that while women’s wear is market segment to be addressed, it would have to wait in our strategy of growth. Hence we had dropped women’s range to focus on the highly buoyant menswear category.
Tell us about your manufacturing plants? What is the capacity and output?
Not too many brands today are as integrated as we as. Blackberrys is equipped with the latest technology of manufacturing in 4 units. Overall our manufacturing and logistics facilities pan across 2, 50,000 sq ft of area. Our capacities are specially designed to manufacture 1000 + suits and jackets every day, 1500 formal trousers and 1500 casual trousers per day. A true assembly line system of production with latest technology in computerized sleeve setters, automatic pocket welting machines, differential feed machines, and specialized press finishing to facilitate a very high level of consistent quality.
Accessories are also an important part of the overall dressing. Which all accessories do you sell under the Blackberrys label?
Blackberrys accessories collection includes Belts, man purse, wallets, Tie and cufflinks.
What will be the growth drivers for the industry in general and your company in particular?
In the fashion space the only growth driver will be innovation, and incidentally there will be no other space to be in except the fashion space. The customer is demanding that innovation, you could take cross category examples such as ipad or automobiles. Even in the current market scenario, consumer is willing to purchase innovative products as Duster by Renault or ofcourse the ipad.
Your view on FDI in retail. How does it impact you?
FDI will give impetus to organized Retail and will be pertinent to the growth of Retail sector in India. We are waiting for more International Brands to come in as it will strengthen the confidence amongst Indian consumers for brand like ours which has consistently being working on the International best practices. Comparison can only state the real position of the brand and we are confident that we are well equipped for the same.
What is the concept of Alpha stores all about? Dwell more on your retail strategy for the metros and tier 1 and 2 markets. What is your reach at present? What are your expansion plans?
Sunil Goklani: We have always believed that a Concept is the only differentiating factor for any brand. Accordingly we have worked upon the same much ahead of times and this has been one of the strongest reasons of our rapid growth. High Capital investment becomes more meaningful for the Concept Stores as they are able to generate much higher revenues than the regular run of the mill Stores. Our bottom lines are very healthy in all such cases.
At the end of FY 12-13 Blackberrys will be present through 190 exclusive brand outlets and much of these numbers are coming from Tier 2. Opening Alpha stores is a strategic approach to create destination stores and bring a 360 degree global experience at the store, to our audiences. This entails providing service excellence, fashion style advice, as well as building a long term relationship with the customer through the Sharp Club. In fact, such alpha stores are coming up soon at Trivandrum, Calicut, Cochin, Trichur, Kollum etc.
What are some of the interesting trends being observed globally and in India?
Sandeep Khapra: Today, we live in one global environment wherein everyone has access and exposure to the latest trends and styles doing the rounds across the fashion capitals. We are seeing resurgence in fusion wear across the globe, east meets west styles like kurta shirts with plackets, band collar jackets. Tuxedos still remain a favorite, albeit with a bit of twist in detailing and colours. We are also seeing elbow patches come in across categories – from shirst, jackets to sweaters.
In India, Jacquard jackets seem to be gaining popularity in evening wear as men are becoming more expressive. The sleeveless bandgala on the other hand seems to be making heavy inroads across all occasions – clubbed with jodhpuris the garment adds glamour to a cocktail evening whereas it is being worn for weekends alongwith cotton trousers.
Share with us some details on how you go about planning new designs? How many people are part of this team?
Sandeep Khapra: The overall team strength is 15 people – includes fashion designers, textile designers and product managers. The team studies forecasts and international trends, understands and stays updated with competition and the trends in local market. The process includes visiting trend and fabric fairs, sourcing fabrics, making new samples and presenting the season collections.