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More than Being Human

Vjmedia Works | December 26, 2014

The brand's license-holder, Mandhana Retail, eyes a bigger play in licensed brands and extensions

Mandhana Retail Ventures, the retail arm of Mandhana Industries, which holds the license for the brand Being Human, plans to dig its heels in building more brands. While its parent company exports textile and garments to popular global apparel brands, Being Human was its first brush with retailing in its home market. Licensed out by a charitable trust under the same name set up by Bollywood actor Salman Khan, the Mumbai-based garment and textile manufacturing company demerged the retail business in November, 2014.

It has set the stage for the company to launch more retail brands. It has a three-pronged plan for Mandhana Retail to expand - extend Being Human into more categories, sign licensing deals with global brands and even flag off a home-grown brand of its own.

Being Human, which currently has more than 500 points of sale, appears to have instilled the confidence in Mandhana's promoters to forge out on their own in apparel retail in India, which is not only crowded but also unorganised to a large extent.

"Retail is here to stay, it does require a different mindset and skills. But with Being Human, we have gained that confidence and now plan to start our own brands, as well as get into licensing deals due to the good prospects they offer, and to give value to our shareholders," says Manish Mandhana, MD of Mandhana Industries.

Mandhana's, the textile division already exports to big brands overseas like H&M, Marks & Spencers, Abercrombie & Fitch and Banana Republic. It also retails Being Human abroad-Europe, West Asia, South Africa and Sri Lanka, notching up a global presence through shop-in-shops.

Licensing of international apparel brands already has players with considerable clout in the business. There is Reliance Brands (RIL) and Arvind Lifestyle Brands are some of the well-established players. "Mandhana Industries supplies apparel to many international brands and this will help the company get its foot in the door. But beyond that, it will have to show capabilities. There is a huge opportunity in the market to bring in more brands and create home-grown brands but these depend on the organisational capabilities and management of multi-product portfolios. Mandhana has shown it has what it takes to make a brand grow with Being Human," says Devangshu Datta, CEO of the retail and consumer consultancy Third Eyesight.

Mandhana Retail Ventures has the licence to handle the retail, designing, manufacturing and marketing of Being Human till March, 2020. It has also started to offering clothing for women and kids under the brand. In the next six to eight months, the collection's accessories arm (includes belts, wallets and slippers so far) will be strengthened. Accessories in fashion enjoy considerable higher margins in general, and for Being Human, contributes 10 per cent to its topline (other apparel with accessory lines often see revenues from accessories at 5-7 per cent according to industry observers). A greater focus could take the accessories contribution to 30 per cent in the next two years, estimates the company.

Prashant Agarwal, joint-managing director of Wazir Advisors, a retail consultant, agrees that, "The company needs to focus not only on the charitable part of Being Human, but also increase the fashion quotient of the apparel brand. Being Human has become a strong brand but the product's value will be enhanced when design is given due importance."

The company also sees 15 per cent of revenues come from e-commerce. "You can't disregard e-commerce, it forms a considerable part of our retailing; we are present across most websites like Flipkart, Myntra, Jabong and will take Being Human to other sites as well," says Manish.

In 2013-14, retail for Mandhana clocked Rs 132 crore in revenue and the company hopes to see it grow by 30 to 40 per cent in FY-15. Experts say that de-merging the retail business is a logical step for a textile company which has stepped into retail and this will help improve the valuation of the company.

"It helps to keep both the businesses separate as both have different requirements. Also, it will not create unnecessary competition amongst the employees," says Agarwal. The company also needs to focus on which brands it plans to tie up with to arrive at a clear positioning, says Agarwal.

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