Modern retailing arrives in India

NEW DELHI: The rules of the burgeoning retail market were being written and rewritten at the second day of the 7th KSA Retail Summit here today, as speakers like Ethan Allan USA chairman, president and CEO Farooq Kathwari and Interbrand UK strategic director Graham Hales threw light on some of the issues revolving around the retail industry.



The keynote address was given by KSA Technopak chairman Arvind Singhal, wherein he said that 2004 could be called as a year when modern retailing in India finally arrived and picked up momentum.

"Credit goes to Pantaloon for setting themselves up as one of the most organized retail stores in the country, which is growing at a steady pace," Singhal said.

Speaking on the topic of 'Writing and Rewriting the rules of Retailing', Kathwari threw light on how Ethan Allan, which is a one stop shop for home solutions needs, had been "reinvented" in the US over the years.



"With the help of solutions based focus at Ethan Allan, we created an environment wherein we left competition behind. Our aim was to change our image, reinvent product offerings and at the same time, maintain our brand equity and grow our consumer base," he said.

Ethan Allan saw an image makeover in the early 1990s, where the company changed almost 70 per cent of their old products in a span of three years. Then again in 2000, the need was felt to reinvent the brand. The company then introduced a $70 million advertising campaign, which is running till date.

"Our aim for the last 10 years has been to reposition and relocate our stores and we introduced a system of sorts wherein the brand name becomes the store name," Kathwari said.



Stressing on the point that when a player is in the retail space, he cannot not afford to be a leader and has to position himself as a leader, Kathwari says that's what Ethan Allan has been doing for a long time now.

Interbrand's Hales, on the other hand, spoke on creating and sustaining value through branding. He pointed out that finding space to communicate your brand is getting more and more difficult in this cluttered market.

Driving home the point that with a larger number of multinational companies coming into India, there was a serious threat to the local players but at the same time it would also lead to the local players raising the standards of their brands in order to meet competition. "The time for branding in India has arrived. The positioning of a brand should spread throughout the organization thus making it real," he said.

Hales drew up a series of rewards that could be achieved by branding products. They were as follows:

1) Brands are timeless

2) Brands can generate significant price premiums

3) Brands can drive employee productivity

4) Brands are intangible and that has become the key source of corporate volume

5) Brands generate value for their organization so accordingly they can be valued

6) Investing in branding delivers higher returns

He concluded by saying that companies should actively manage brands to increase their values. "Consider the brand as an organizing principle and it's only by living the brand that you will achieve its aims and objectives," Hales said.

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