Indian fashion sector is ripe for boom! Yes, it is! The US $ 88 billion Indian clothing retail market has been continuously attracting every big and small fashion brands from across the world. The growing percentage of youth and the ever-growing fashion-conscious consumers are making the climate favourable for the brands to venture into the country.
In fact, according to a 2019 McKinsey report, India is set to become one of the most attractive markets for apparel with more than 300 international fashion brands expected to open stores here by 2022-2023.
Zara, H&M, M&S, Forever New, Decathlon, Superdry and many more have already established their base in India and are doing well too. We discussed this at length in one of our previous stories.
The US home furnishing bigwig Williams-Sonoma is the latest to have some big plans for India. Well, India has never been new for the premier speciality retailer. Increased sourcing from India was one of the reasons the retailer opened its office in the country way back in 2013, but now it seems to have some big plans up its sleeves.
Boasting of popular brands like Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, West Elm,Williams Sonoma and many others, the California-based retailer has been generating annual revenue of US $ 8 billion, and thereby outperforming its peers. Now that’s an incredible achievement at a time when many others are struggling due to reduced consumption power. Williams-Sonoma is growing very fast and India seems to be now on top priority for the retailer.
In a candid interview with TV 18, Laura Alber, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Williams-Sonoma, made her plans for India distinct. Ever since Laura became the CEO, the share price of the retailer has gone up by more than tenfold. That says it all!
And Laura is now quite confident of attaining the target of US $ 10 billion by 2024. “Each of our brands has specific growth plans and, this along with our focus on innovation, should help us achieve our target,” substantiates Laura. It’s all about having a well-defined strategy for each brand and Williams-Sonoma is on the right track.
Back in 2018, Williams-Sonoma entered into an alliance with Reliance Brands, following which one saw opening of two West Elm stores in India in 2021 – while one came up in Mumbai’s World Drive, the other was in Ambience Mall, Gurugram. Also, Pottery Barn has gone online now.
From consumption, growth and sourcing perspective too, India is right up there in Williams-Sonoma’s plans. India has boomed in terms of growth and the retailer believes it is the perfect time to expand here.
Laura corroborates, “We have been sourcing in India since decades and it is one of our favourite countries because of the incredible design done here and we are delighted to bring our complete lifestyle brands to market in retail and online.” The interesting aspect is that same design trends are happening everywhere from California to Dubai to Mumbai.
Moving forward, Laura says, two more West Elm stores will come up, besides focusing on many other cities in the country. “Just wait and watch – it will be a game changer for the home furnishing industry in India,” adds Laura.
Williams-Sonoma is gradually starting from textiles in India, and is moving away from pillows and beddings to incredible quality of furniture. “There’s so much innovation and we can use any type of wood and mixed materials are speciality here. India is an amazing creative community of designers and we have always put talent on priority. In fact, our Chief Design Officer, Monica Bhargava, is an Indian.”
That shows how connected Williams-Sonoma is to India. The alliance with Reliance is only going to help the US retailer get easy access to great technology platform and it’s not always that both the partners speak same language.
In its efforts to make the delivery experience seamless for the customers, the retailer today offers advice on room planning through an online chat, besides providing virtual consultations over phone, video, e-mail and in-store appointment. It has also added 3D element to its online furniture store.
Reliance too couldn’t have asked for anyone better than Williams-Sonoma! One of the largest e-tailers in the US, Williams-Sonoma is amongst the top 100 sustainable companies in the world. The commitment to give the customers the best of quality products is what is common to both the retail giants. The brands’ heritage and strong design point of view is expected to resonate with Indian consumers, and bring a new dimension to their homes.
With Indian consumers keen to spend a significant part of their income now on clothes, footwear and home furnishing, there isn’t any better time than now for brands like Williams-Sonoma to capture the Indian market.
It’s just the beginning of good times for Indian apparel and home furnishing market. There’s more to come!