With 19 stores in India including new stores at DLF Promenade and Terminal 3, of the Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi, Marks & Spencer continues being excited at the buoyant prospects it can see for itself. The age old British high street brand, which offers a wide range of clothing, home and beauty products for the whole family, first entered India as part of a franchise agreement in 2001.In April 2008, Marks and Spencer and Reliance Retail, part of the Reliance Industries, signed a JV to become Marks & Spencer Reliance India with a goal of establishing M&S as a major retail brand in an upwardly mobile India.
Through this JV, the company has been able to open larger stores and realign prices by locally sourcing up to 42 per cent of their products, with the aim of reaching 60 per cent by 2012. Local sourcing has also allowed flexibility to tailor their products for the Indian consumer with more color options, smaller pack sizes and more conservative lengths. The company focuses on branding as well as displaying new innovative style statements for its target 25 to 35 year-old affluent clients who regularly travel abroad and are in touch with global fashions trends.
The brand is betting big on knits. “The styles and fashion elements we have brought and others haven’t are Hanky hems, boxy shapes, tunics; shift dresses; fair-isles and color block in design. The color palette for this season are blue, plum, lilac, green, aqua, chemical greens, henna tones, raspberry and laundered blues. Our product portfolio is 30 per cent fashion and 70 per cent basic. In T-shirt neck styles, we make polo and round necks at about 50 per cent each,” says Martin Jones, CEO, Marks & Spencer Reliance India.
Jones feels that the Indian knitwear market is not as established as other countries, mainly because India has a strong woven fabric offer. However, as an international retailer, the company offers high quality, great value knitwear to their Indian customers and locally sources over 42 per cent products from Indian suppliers. This has helped develop strong relationships with local supply bases, so they are now able to “stretch the seasons” – which means the company can have early availability on linen products to cater to customers in January in Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad whilst still selling knitwear in Delhi, which is comparatively colder. The company’s product portfolio and prices depend upon the season.
To ensure strong branding and visual advertising, M&S highlights their products creatively in large store windows as well as respective sections. The external communication also features the latest international trends and they also build consumer interest through their company e-mailers, facebook and other New Age media.