This morning, I read a very interesting article about ‘Olfactory Branding’ and I tried to think hard if I have any memory, besides of course the overwhelming cocktail of perfume of the ground floor section at Shopper Stop and obviously the Coffeee beans at Barista, CCD etc…nothing came to mind except the smell of Sambhar at Sagar Ratna, which I am sure is quite accidental, considering the volume of agarbattis being used to kill the sambhar’s scent !
It really set me thinking, why cant my favorite stores smell like my favorite things ?
Some months ago I got excited about this japanese Retailer UNIQLO who do things pretty differently including a Robot shop assistant called Wakamuru and some of the whackiest, zanniest ideas in Retailing.
Well, those guys are back in the news again. UNIQLO now have a tie up with China’s largest online shopping portal taobao.com who reportedly have some 100 million online shoppers registered with them. The portal is owned by a the Alibaba Group ( !!) . I did not realise Alibaba was such popular metaphor across that part of Asia as well. Hmmm…
UNIQLO will open their Flagship click and mortar store on Taobao and will get hugely promoted by Alibaba!
Incidentally UNIQLO is the largest fashion retail chain in japan with 800 stores ( there are about as many Coffee Days in India, isnt it ?) and its owned by Fast Retailing co. who also own the European Lingerie brand ‘Princesse Tam Tam’ amongst others.
Its interesting to know that Fast Retailing had unsuccessfully offered a bid of $900 million for Barneys New York department store in 2007.
Amongst their many creative ideas in Fashion Retail, I found a very interesting UNIQLO concept of Container Stores. I like it since it is so relevant for Indian Retail with our street markets, Diwali melas and crazy real estate prices ! The UNIQLO container is hardworking store with strip windows and an external generator for lights and POS. The door and ramp fold on hydraulic struts. The designers for the UNIQLO Containers are LOT-EK
Sharing pic of a UNIQLO ‘Container’ store in New York :
Pic source : http://www.psfk.com/2006/10/uniqlo_containe.html
I read in the TOI that some chaps just rented out a 133 sq. ft. shop near Safdarjung Road, New Delhi for an astounding Rs 12,09,000 per month. That is a rental of Rs 9,022 per sq ft per month.
This patch of bricks would have costed Rs 10,15,000 in the Fifth Avenue, New York, Rs 9,80,00 per month in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, Rs. 6,25,000 in Champs Elysees, Paris, Rs. 5,40,000 in Via Montena Pleone, Milan and Between Rs 4,00,000 to Rs 4,50,000 in Grafton Street, Dublin, New Bond Street, London, Ginza in Japan, and Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich.
Just to put things in micro perspective, if the same guys went shopping elsewhere in New Delhi they would have found a nook in natty Khan market at Rs 1,100 per sq ft per month, Rs 800 per sq ft per month in Posh South Ex, and Rs 675 per sq ft per month in Connaught Place.
Whoa ! I love these guys. Whoever they are !
Found this while backing up some old pictures on my laptop! I spotted ‘Gandhi Ji’ a couple of years ago on the fancy Rue La Fayette in Paris.
Imagine a Gandhi Ji’s tandoori chicken happening on an Indian highstreet. God (all of them) forbid !!!
I met a couple of students from a prominent B school yesterday. Graduating in Retail, they had come to discuss placements for the current batch. They asked me the average salary I think freshers could get ( at my small company and the likes) . I thought of an honest number and padded it by 20%. They both gave me the look of disbelief, the kind that says ‘ you can’t be serious’ ! After they had left, I was wondering if I was really out of touch. Last week a student of mine at a B school that I sometimes teach at wrote me an e mail asking me my opinion on the current Jobs scenario and the average CTC that he could expect. After I replied, I never heard back from him.
I spoke with the HR head of a mid size Retail company – she coincidentally called me to find what was happening about jobs at the senior level ! She said, my assessment of average salaries was optimistic and quite correct. So I know I am in touch and we should all know by the end of the next year which was the game is going.
I read yesterday that Reliance Retail will not renew contracts of 2000 contractual employees ! A very senior person at RKHS mentioned to me that most senior staff above a particular CTC have been asked to ease out. We all know what’s happening with Jet and IA. Retail will feel the tremors too.
In the US there has been a spate of closures. Today TOI says that retailer Eddie Bauer has closed 27 shops in the first quarter and plans to close few more by the end of the year. Fashion Bug, Catherines Plus Sizes will close about 150 underperforming stores this year. The Talbots group announced that it will close Talbots Kids and Talbots Mens Concepts by end of the year – in all 78 Talbots stores will close down. Walt Disney said it has also obtained the right to close about 98 Disney Stores in the US. Gap has announced plans to close 85 Old Navy and Banana Republic stores as it continues to struggle to attract customers. Ann Taylor will close 117 stores between 2008 and 2010. A large number of Indian Exporters are suppliers to these brands and the implications for them could be fatal.
Retailers in India, havn’t come to the bridge yet. New formats and expansions are announced every day. The ‘pundits’ predict a growth rate of 30 % for the industry and the forerunners say that the ‘gloom’ around the Retail Industry is false. Touch wood.