Fashion 'n Family

A one time small retailer has branched out into a chain of six stores with plans to spread itself further in the northern market.

From a small traditional retailer of clothing in the busy Lajpat Nagar market, to a huge 50,000 sq ft outlet in Rohini, to an even bigger upcoming 75,000 sq ft mega store in Greater Noida, the growth has been simply – gigantic. Over the last three decades, Ritu Wears has evolved into a major player in the capital’s fashion retail bazaar selling all – from apparel to furniture to furnishing.

On a major expansion mode, the retail chain of six stores plans to open more in Faridabad and Panipat in the next one year with an investment of Rs 10-12 crore each. It also plans to enter the retail market in Agra, Greater Noida, Dehradun and Punjab by 2009-10. Its immediate target, however, is to cross the psychological – Rs 100 crore mark – in the coming year and a turnover of Rs 200 crore by 2008. “We have grown over 1,000 per cent since our inception by Mrs JD Sahni in 1971. Modernisation, loyal customer base and the synergy of traditional retail with modern concepts and technology has helped us grow,” assets Samir Sahni, director, Ritu Wears.

The beginning

When and how did this journey start?

It was a simple housewife’s hobby soon became a widow’s only means to sustain her young children. Rituwears is Janak Dullari Sahni’s contribution to the great Indian fashion retail story.

Janak D Sahni
“It was in 1971that a small space in New Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar area was named Ritu Wears. Today, it occupies a total space of approximately 1 lakh sq ft. ”

The year was 1967 when the hobby took shape into a part time business. Three years on, with the death of her architect husband, she was left with no choice, little money and three kids to take care of. Many may call it a compulsion, she defines it as ‘God’s will’, she bought a small space in New Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar area and started a small garment shop named after her first born, Ritu and thus came about – Ritu Wears, today a retail chain spanning an area of approximately one lakh sq ft.

For the next fourteen years, she faced many a problem. However, as she says, “Apart from my strong will, four things always helped me to move on – honesty, hard work, being God fearing and the right attitude.”

“I came from an educated background. Nobody in my family had been into business. It was difficult for me to interact with established retailers. They had been theresince ages, running family business. However, it was my proper education that helped me succeed,” she elaborates.

“In spite of being a woman, I did not face much of a problem as I had the right attitude and I was always honest. I have taught both my sons the same values,” she adds.

In 1984, both her sons, Sanjay and Samir, took over the reins of the business and expanded it to the present form.

Retail Mantra

A one time small retailer has branched out into a chain of six stores with plans to spread itself further in the northern market. IMAGES BoF profiles the New Delhi-based fashion store, Ritu Wears.

Neha Chhetri disseminates the fashion idiom that makes Metal and Punk, well, different.

We Want to give our customer and his or her familiy pure fashion with true value. Our focus is not on any particular segment, rather on the dressing up of the whole family.

On an average, Ritu Wears outlets cover 25,000 sq ft and the year-on-year growth stands at 50 per cent. The company expects a turnover of Rs 90 crore in the present fiscal. “We started as a small retail shop. However, with lots of energy and dreams to achieve something, we started expanding in 1984. In today’s retail business, more retail space means more opportunities. We have just opened the largest family fashion outlet in New Delhi. And also plan to open a bigger outlet in Greater Noida by 2009. We want to concentrate on the northern region and plan to open 7-8 new ventures in the coming years,” comments Samir.

With the new 50,000 sq ft outlet in Rohini that opened in late October, Ritu Wears has become a complete home and lifestyle store with its entry into the home and furnishings segment.

Fashion unveiled

Aiming to be a super brand in the family fashion business, Ritu Wears retails some of the best known national and international apparel and lifestyle labels in the market. “Our catch line is ‘clothes for happy family’. We want to create a name in family fashion. We don’t believe in hypermarkets. Rather, we want give to our customer and his or her family – pure fashion with true value. Our focus is not on any particular segment, rather on the whole family dressing,” Samir says.

While menswear constitutes 40 per cent of the total sales at Ritu Wears, womenwear and kidswear cover 25 and 30 per cent respectively. A visit to its Lajpat Nagar outlet for women and kids, even before noon on a weekday, reveals its popularity. The presence of unorganised vendors selling everything – from tops to trousers at bargainable prices – does not seem to deter shoppers from crowding the Ritu Wears outlet.

Private labels

It was only last year that, Ritu Wears introduced a number of private labels across segments. On the anvil are some more in the coming spring/summer. “We do not want to put up private labels without proper research. We believe there needs to be a proper thought behind it. Factors like whom we are competing against – is it brands or non-brands that will help us decide our strategy,” said Samir.

He hopes that in the next two years, private labels would constitute 10-20 per cent of the company’s sales.

Footwear

This regional player also recently unveiled a ‘Shoe Shop’ under which it sells footwear. The company claims to retail all major men’s footwear brands through its Rohini and Pacific Mall stores. It has introduced private labels – Black and Rockwood – in this segment too. It plans to introduce a new brand – Egoss by this December.

In the women’s footwear segment, the company sells in-house brands. It plans to introduce formal shoes in the children’s segment.

Cosmetics & fragrances

Family fashion is incomplete without cosmetics. Some of the dominant players in this segment include Lakme, Revlon, Ponds, L’Oreal and Chambor. L’Oreal has an edge over the other brands in skincare and age solution premium products segment. Maybelline is doing well in the small size premium lipstick and nail enamel category.

Some of the best selling brands in fragrances in the premium range include Hugo Boss, Gucci and Mont Blanc. The mass segment is dominated by Adidas and Joven. Jeanne Arches controls the mid price point market in fragrances. The best selling prices ranges in premium segment is Rs 2,000-3,000, in mid segment Rs 800-12,000 and in mass segment is Rs 300-600.

CRM

Ritu Wears claims to earn Rs 1,500 per sq ft on an average with the average oncome range of its customer profile falling in the Rs 25,000 and above income catergory. “One of the major factors for our growth has been our emotional attachment with our customers. Through our customer loyalty programme, we keep our customers updated through frequent mailer about the latest developments in our stores,” said Samir.

The company claims to have around one lakh frequent customers of which 25,000 are registered with the company’s customer loyalty programme. Ritu Wears follows the return and exchange policy under which customers can return goods bought from the outlets within three months of purchase. It also organises schemes that help sustain and increase its customer base. Local celebrities like Shibani Kashyap have been roped in for endorsements.

On the advertisement front, the company spends two per cent of its turnover and uses medium including television, press, hoarding and banners.

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