‘Retail sector picking up pace on the back of festive sales’

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As Indian Terrain completes 20 years, Charath Narsimhan, MD, Indian Terrain Fashions, tells us about the company’s sustainable strategy, joining forces with Fairtrade India & expanding to Tier markets

The textile and apparel industry has experienced a setback, courtesy of the global pandemic. Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, Indian Terrain, the men’s fashion and apparel brand, completed 20 years in the business in 2020.

As Indian Terrain enters its third decade, Charath Narsimhan, Managing Director, Indian Terrain Fashions Limited, says the brand is venturing into new arenas. With the focus on sustainability, Indian Terrain has joined forces with Fairtrade India to create a sustainable national brand.

“Indian Terrain has collaborated with Fairtrade India to create an exclusive sustainable fashion line that protects the environment and empowers Fairtrade farmers in Gujarat,” he said. The brand is the first high street one in India to get the Fairtrade Label for its collection, Indian Terrain’s Fairtrade Capsule collection.

Indian Terrain embarked on its sustainable journey in February 2020 with the launch of its exclusive Earth Khaki product line, launched as a part of its SS20 collection. This journey progresses through the launch of the sustainable product line with Fairtrade India and is also aligned with the company’s long-term strategy to building a sustainable company. “Going forward we intend to produce over 50% of our entire portfolio with Fairtrade cotton, recycled cotton, recycled polyester and organic & natural fibres such as bamboo, hemp, sourced consciously and sustainably over the next three years. We will work with certified suppliers and highlight the traceability of the raw materials used, to ensure supply chain partners are aligned with our objectives. The sustainability initiative will also be extended to other processes through bio-degradable packaging and product circularity,” Narsimhan explained.

While sustainable fashion has many takers, it is perceived to be expensive and catering to the high-end consumer. On the other hand many reports say that consumers are willing to pay more for a product that they see reflects their values and is sustainable. Commenting on this, Narsimhan says, “In order for sustainability to become mainstream, a lot more focus on customer education is required. Starting with price in elastic categories – price increase due to sustainable fashion is minimal. Sustainable fashions come at a premium price due to the effort and craft that goes into the manufacturing of the product.”

Eye on non-metros

While there is a lot of debate on brick-and-mortar stores due to the onslaught of online shopping, Indian Terrain is betting on the store format.

The company recently launched stores in Hubli, Lucknow, Siwan, Ganganagar, Ooty, Sembakkam, Thiruvannamalai, Kanchipuram, Ramnad and Dharmapuri. Currently, the company today retails across the country through 1000+ Multi Brand Outlets, 400+ doors of Large Format Stores, 160+ Exclusive Brand Outlets (EBOs) and is available through key e-commerce platforms as well.

Looking ahead the company has aggressive retail plans with the focus being on offering consumers in non-metro markets convenient shopping destinations. Narsimhan elaborates, “Indian Terrain is expanding its retail footprint in the country with a focus on Small Town India “BHARAT” with the launch of 20 new retail stores in Tier II and Tier III markets in FY 20-21. We see that the smaller towns are showing much more resilience and the consumption impact as a result of Covid-19 is much lesser in smaller town India. This expansion strategy was always part of the long-term plan, however it has been expedited in the present situation.”

Marketing the Brand

With the impetus on digital due to the current situation, Indian Terrain is working towards mitigating the pandemic’s impact by focusing on the Direct to consumer channels – EBO’s, Store to door initiative, new E-commerce channels, Increased traction through the brand’s own webstore and constant communication with consumers via social and digital channels.

“Riding the wave and adapting to our consumers’ buying behaviours we have invested in our digital strategy to strengthen our e-commerce set-up and focussed on building strong strategic partnerships with marketplaces such as Myntra & Flipkart and with Nykaa to ensure higher visibility. We have also re-launched our own website enabling an enhanced user interface and omni-channel experience with order fulfilment being implemented from stores,” says Narsimhan.

Indian Terrain is also further strengthening its delivery models for customers. It has introduced multiple consumer-centric initiatives for seamless engagement digitally. The brand has launched a “Store to Door” service whereby a curated virtual catalogue is sent to the customer via WhatsApp and product is delivered at the customer’s doorstep.

A Festive Recovery?

A sector that was severely impacted by the lockdown was the retail sector as only essential stores were open. Narsimhan says that a lot of the brands have accepted the current situation and are expanding their business and product portfolio and even customers are adapting to the new normal life.

“The retail industry is improving slowly and with the festive season here, the sales are expected to increase to a good extent. Even though the number of footfalls in stores has been much less, we have seen a reasonable demand and conversions in the recent past with the Unlock. The consumer walking in is clear about what is he/she is looking for.”

With WFH being the new normal and children classes now being online, this has led to an increase in preference towards t-shirts, shorts, joggers and ringer t-shirts from the product line. He says, “We are receiving a positive response for our boys’ collection. We have launched the Marvel and Winter collection in the kids and boys segment this festive season. We are running several offers and discounts in all Indian Terrain stores and on our online shopping portal.”

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Ritika Raj

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