Raymond set to grow retail footprint in GCC and manufacturing capacity in India

Raymond, India's premium suiting brand, is set to launch a range of the traditional Arab dress, dishdasha or kundurah, in cotton for the GCC market, where its sales and network of retail outlets are growing strongly.

Raymond is India's most prestigious worsted suiting brand that offers expensive fabrics, ready-to-wear garments and shirting through its 1,000-plus retail outlets that include The Raymond shop, ColourPlus, Park Avenue, Parx and Makers.

The company opened its first franchise in Muscat in 1992 and has since expanded its network to 26 retail outlets in Oman, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, Sanjay Behl, CEO for lifestyles business at Raymond, told Khaleej Times on the sidelines of an event held recently.

The chief executive was in Abu Dhabi where he hosted over 350 dealers and franchisees who came to attend an exhibition organised to showcase Raymond's new winter collection and to book orders. Present on the occasion was Ashish Grover, vice-president of international business and garmenting at Raymond.

The company, founded in 1925, is expanding aggressively inside and outside India, including in the GCC. The fashion company is introducing new concepts, blended fabrics, designs, colours and innovations, Behl said.

On the dishdashah or kundurah, Behl said: "This product is in an early stage of development and investments have been made. Within six months, it will be rolled out across the GCC. The product has been discussed with local partners. Raymond is set to become a supplier of cotton dishdashas. We are already working on it, some supplies are already happening."

The chief executive hoped to deliver six to eight varieties of cotton dishdashas in six months.

Other innovations being done for the hot and humid GCC weather include an odour-free suit nicknamed the Fresco jacket which absorbs perspiration, he said.

The recently launched Flexi Jacket is a lightweight jacket without lining, which makes it a perfect jacket for formal wear in harsh climate conditions such as in Dubai. The shower clean suit is another innovation at Raymond. "This suit doesn't need ironing at all," he said.

For winter, Raymond has introduced printed designs in a range of colours in Egypt's Gizan cotton and linen fabric.

Bhel was upbeat on Raymond's sales in the GCC market where his brand has established a foothold despite the presence of high-end European brands. Growing 45 per cent year-on-year, sales in 2014 reached 65 million as outlets did brisk business, he added.

Raymond opened its first made-to-measure outlet at The Dubai Mall, where a customer can pick a design from its wide range and give his measurements for a suit or a shirt, which is stitched at its Bengaluru factory and delivered to the customer within 14 days.

The idea is to incorporate personalised fittings and comfort to the customer without an additional cost, he said. The concept has become so popular that the outlet's sales have grown 120 per cent within three years of its opening.

Interestingly, Indian customers constitute only 25 per cent of Raymond's total customers in the GCC while the majority includes UAE nationals, transit passengers and tourists visiting Dubai.

With a strong customer response, the chief executive is hoping to repeat similar sales growth in 2015.

Riding on the success of its offerings, Raymond is opening six more franchise outlets in Oman, KSA and the UAE in the next two months. If the model works, he said: "We can open six more shops in Dubai alone by the year end."

Raymond has 1,003 outlets, including 750 offering a range of Raymond worsted suiting fabrics and shirting while the remaining sell its other brands. The company's overseas operations have recently expanded to Pakistan, where it has four outlets.

In India, the chief executive said his company will spend 40 million in expanding manufacturing capacities this year. He said: "We are making a massive investment in manufacturing capacity in the next three to four years both in terms of garmenting and shirting."

Investments are also being made to expand Raymond's retail presence in India as consumption is growing due to a pick-up in domestic economic growth under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Behl is impressed by Modi's pro-business policies, his leadership and futuristic vision.

He described him as a visionary CEO of India, who is leading a team of chief ministers and ministers and is committed to deliver. He said Modi has brought a new and fresh thinking to Indian polity. He said the outcome of his pro-development agenda would be visible only in the next few years.

"At a recent meeting, a top government minister asked us to train one million young people who could be put to work," said Grover.

The Modi government wants to equip 50 million young Indians with relevant skills in various sectors, including textiles, he said.


Posted at Khaleejtimes on 31st May 2015

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