James Munson, took over as MD of Marks and Spencer Reliance India Pvt. Ltd. in May. In 2011, when he was the marketing head in India, the company strived to sell women’s shorts with not much success, however, currently there’s demand is exponentially rising and Munson is all set to take the British retailer’s reins and lead it to success with low-priced products and new stores in India.
Marks and Spencer Group Plc. (M&S), which has a joint venture with Reliance Retail Ltd., has 62 stores in India. The retailer also sells the M&S brand on three online shopping sites, Myntra, AJIO and Amazon.
James sees India rising in line with international fashion trends, there is an alignment of fashion. In India, there is a greater demand for colour and print. We make sure with our local sourcing that we get additional colour and print into our stores here.
From a business perspective, James, sees India as increasingly becoming a competitive market, “which is good for us as well as the consumers”. The malls have professionalised in terms of investments.
James sees Indian customers increasingly follow global trends. For example, we’ve recorded a 62 per cent increase in the sale of dresses since last year as well as a 25 per cent increase in swimwear sales during 2017. Customers have brought into trends and key pieces such as the statement sleeves, embroidered detailing and patches across dresses.
James discloses that they are focusing on getting opening price points right to give the customer value for money. “We are pushing these value credentials in segments where we have real authority, like lingerie. Bras are growing at a rate of 31 per cent year-on-year and this year, we introduced a starting range of bras at Rs 799, which was Rs 1,299 last year. We have sold 86,000 units of that range so far this year”.
“We introduced a range of Rs999 in men’s polo T-shirts, which is starting to get traction. We have also introduced a ladies dresses line at Rs 1,999, which has done phenomenally well. There is exponential growth in dresses” he added.
Why shift in price points? “It’s a combination of reviewing as to where we sit in the market, our ability to make sure that we have a very strong local sourcing base and that we are able to drive real value to our customers. Today, about 65 per cent of what we source for our business comes from India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh; 30 per cent of our sourcing is directly from India itself, he discloses and adds, this gives us the benefit on supply chain and allows us to pass that benefit onto customers. But it’s not just about prices. It’s a combination of making sure that we are offering regular fashion in our stores at a price point that is compelling.”