'We aim to be a $1 billion cos'

AN EMPIRE WORTH $400 MILLION, Deepak Seth’s business traverses 12 countries in three continents. His enterprise House of Pearls Fashion Ltd (HOPFL), a fashion export giant, caters to the apparel needs of major US and UK retailers including JC Penny, Gap/Banana Republic, Next, George, Kohl’s, Dillards and ASDA Walmart. The company is also involved in distribution and logistics. Brimming with plans to enter the domestic fashion retail segment with its own brands, Seth established HOPFL as a small manufacturing enterprise in 1975. Even as the world was waking up to globalisation, a young Seth perceived the potential to marry the best from the West and the East. He went global with manufacturing bases across the Far East and South Asia, and design and marketing bases in the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe. Kunal Majumder speaks with Seth on his experiences and the way forward.

Q. What have the challenges been as you set about expanding your empire to 12 countries?

A. Every country has a unique way of carrying out businesses. Understanding the dynamics of each country and developing management teams was the main challenge of this evolutionary process.

Q. Details of your plans to enter the retail market? How much will you invest in this initiative?

A. We are planning to enter niche retailing of fashion garments in India with an investment of Rs 54 crore over the next three years. We feel that the strengths we have in design, sourcing and manufacturing of fashion garments give us an edge over the competition. To start with, we are looking at setting up 10 pilot stores. Having set the format right, we can quickly ramp it up.

Q. As you plan to enter the fashion retail market in the country, what will be the differentiator between HOPFL and the others? Which are the categories that you will cater to – whether high-end, masstige, premium, or mid-segment?

A. There is a big gap in the value segment. We feel confident that with the design and sourcing strengths we have, we can bring in fashion with value products on the retail floor and find an edge over others. In India, we will like to start with fashion products for the youth, especially women, and then build it up for other customer groups as well.

Q. Are you planning to launch any brands in the domestic market?

A. We are in the process of finalising the retail strategy. Yes, it will call for setting up labels, which will be sold through the retail chain that we intend to make. The modalities are currently being chalked out.

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Published in IMAGES Business of Fashion

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