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The Retail Space In India Is Evolving

Benetton India CEO & MD Sundeep Chugh tells Ruhail Amin that this growth reflects the trust Indian customers have put in the brand

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Benetton, which began its operations in India 25 years ago, has witnessed consistent growth in India despite facing competition from local and foreign players. Benetton India CEO & MD Sundeep Chugh tells Ruhail Amin that this growth reflects the trust Indian customers have put in the brand. In turn, India has become a big focus for Benetton globally with the country even influencing fashion trends

How significant is India as a market for Benetton globally? 
India is our most important market outside Italy and there is a lot of focus on it. We have just opened a store in London, which is our latest flagship store. Soon, you might see a store of similar flagship format in Delhi too. This is the kind of importance India has for Benetton. We have been growing here consistently at 15-18 per cent in the last seven to eight years. So from a performance point too, the market is giving consistent performance year after year. It is difficult to seek that kind of number outside India. I would say India is top of mind not just for us but for all global brands.

With online retail market growing at 30 per cent YoY in India, how is Benetton planning to leverage the big promise that it could deliver for the brand? 

In a country where over 60 per cent of the population is below 35 years of age, and where we have almost 400 million smart phone users, which will become 700 million by 2020, online makes a lot of sense for us. In fact, we started in 2011, and since then the performance has been encouraging. We also know that online is a marketplace where offline can get cannibalised, so we strategically created a business vertical like footwear online. We have nurtured this channel very well for our brand and we will be selling close to a million pairs of footwear by next year. So we are looking at e-commerce as a channel where we can develop new business, but at the same time it is important to be in this channel in the right way.

How would you describe the evolution of the Indian retail space over the years? What kind of opportunities and challenges does it present for global brands like yours?

The retail space in India is evolving. Five years ago, there were only high-street stores, and then came the mall culture. From a retail landscape perspective, too many things have happened in the last eight to 10 years. In India, things may happen late but they catch on fast. If you look at e-commerce, it came in a few years ago and has now become the fastest growing channel in the industry. I would say the final evolution of the retail landscape will take a few years. Also, the organised market is only 8 to 10 per cent, the rest is unorganised. So, in such a market, we definitely have a long way to go. And that also speaks about the potential and the challenges involved.  

How would you describe your marketing strategy in India? How significant is digital mix?
There is a lot of focus on digital. We will be allocating more than 50 per cent spend on digital as we feel it is the long-term medium and it is where we find our target audience. Moreover, it is easy to measure, and allows quick feedback, which in turn helps to change direction or deploy a more effective strategy.

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Benetton India Sundeep Chugh Magazine 9 June 2018

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