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PLAY Anil Lakhani, executive director of Gini & Jony, is all game when it comes to wooing his little customers
By Sapna Khanna ho wants to waste money on something that the kids would grow out of all too quickly? That was the common sentiment till not so long ago. Most people preferred buying functional kids’ apparel from small stores or street shops rather than expensive branded ones. Branded kidswear was only for the brats of status-conscious parents with deep pockets. And then things changed. Radically. Who would have thought that a name that for the longest time was associated with the country’s bestknown Hawai chappal for the common man would be a gamechanger at the fore in one of the most challenging fashion apparel categories to convert. The footwear brand for the masses selling under the labels Lakhani, Lakhani Shoes and Lakhani Hawai has covered quite a distance to offer a kidswear brand with snob value. But then so has kidswear as a high-selling branded apparel segment in the country. The market for branded kids’ clothing is growing. One may credit rising media exposure, nuclear families with one or two kids, high disposable income and more double income families, 20 | FDD | september 2013
“The inspiration for the brand came from world-renowned brands that had set up in far east with the well-defined imagery and right retail presence.”
Photograph: bajirao pawar
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peer pressure or growing fashion and brand consciousness among children, for driving the growth of kid’s apparel market in India. And cynics and psychologists may cluck at the probable guilt factor of working parents spending more time at office than with their wards that pushes them to compensate by spending more on their child. But the bottom line is that the Lakhanis identified the potential for branded kidswear when they did, which was much before anyone else in the country. Says Anil Lakhani, executive director, Gini & Jony, “The inspiration for the brand came from world-renowned brands that had set up in Far East with the welldefined imagery and right retail presence.” The primary focus of the Gini & Jony business includes designing, manufacturing, branding and distribution of garments and lifestyle accessories for kids, under various brands through exclusive brand outlets, large format stores and multi-brand outlets across the country. “Brands are more likely to succeed when they adapt their retail formats,” says Lakhani. The growth in the kidswear segment in the country can well be gauged with the rise and rise of the brands herein. Gini & Jony, for instance, when it began in 1980, fed off a modest workshop with just four stitching machines. The brand today, 33 years later, has two state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in Daman (Gujarat) and Baddi (Himachal Pradesh), with a capacity of producing three lakh pieces per month. What’s more, it has a set a large nationwide footprint with more than 700 retail touch points, most of which is in modern formats. “With emerging presence of modern retail, time spent is more at these formats. Thus, Gini & Jony was made available at most of the modern retails formats,” shares Lakhani. Anil Lakhani became a part of the family business in 1990 and quickly understood that the easy availability of branded kidswear in India was rare, especially in cottons as the available clothing was mostly polyster. “There lay a big opportunity in this sector, as India is a tropical country with huge demand for cotton clothing for kids,” shares Lakhani. Thus, Gini & Jony introduced multiple categories under the kidswear clothing segment. Shirts, t-shirts, bermudas, dresses, skirts, jeans, cotton bottom wear, jackets and much more. In 2006, Gini & Jony ventured into the retail business through 30 exclusive outlets across the country. Gini & Jony is the pioneer of kids’ denims in India. Over 30 years, the company has emerged as India’s leading kidswear brand. Currently, the brand has 250 brand outlets and is planning another 70. “International markets would be the way forward but we still need lay a more solid foundation,” states Lakhani.
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Gini & Jony currently has 250 brand outlets and is planning 70 more.
New initiatives There are plans afoot to launch the two in-house brands by Gini & Jony individually. There is the target to have 80-100 GJ Jeans & Palm Tree stores in the next three years as well as another 100 Gini & Jony stores. The brand is further looking to add accessories like shoes and watches to its range. Next, the brand will be launching its e-commerce portal in the near future. Gini and Jonyâ€™s newest stores have been designed with the objective of giving a contemporary and niche look. As majority customers are women and consumers are kids, soothing environment at the stores is emphasized. The new stores are designed more ergonomically and are kids friendly. The layout of the store is free flowing so that the kids can pick their own clothing.
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Gini & Jony was made available at most of the modern retail formats. 24 | FDD | september 2013
From design to dispatch Design studio: PLM software is implemented at Design studio to create designs and tech packs. Sampling machine of Tajima for embroidery is part of its infrastructure. Daman factory: The factory has ERP system across all departments for real time information and updating MIS, in-house printing department capable of developing and producing all kinds of prints, computerised embroidery with capability to make a combination of nine-colour design per head, and centralised warehouse with capacity to cater to the entire distribution demands across the country. Laundry: This unit has been set up to provide latest wash techniques for improving look and hand feel of the brand’s clothing. Baddi unit: Embroidery and printing unit, washing facility, computerised embroidery with capability to make a combination of nine-colour design per head.
Anil Lakhani is a driven man when it comes to Gini & Jony, and there are big plans afoot. “The two Gini & Jony in-house brands will be launched individually. We are looking at having 80 to 100 GJ Jeans & Palm Tree stores in the next three years. Also, another 100 Gini & Jony stores are planned and soon we are looking at adding accessories like shoes and watches to our range. We will be launching our e-commerce portal in the near future too,” shares Lakhani, excited about the way forward. He is armed to the teeth to fight competition from international brands that have entered India recently, courtesy the growing market opportunity in this segment. “A sincere attempt to deliver quality fashion apparel at affordable prices is our USP and this will be our advantage over the foreign branded players,” he says. Yet Lakhani is living in no fool’s paradise. He realises that what the brand has achieved over the last three decades is only the tip of the iceberg. There is tremendous untapped potential in the kidswear market. There are still challenges, the main one being keeping up with mall rentals. “Besides, few people in the county take up retail as a career choice because of which there is a major staffing problem at the store level. Also managing pricing and inventory are among other the major challenges in kidswear,” he adds. But staying on top of things is the way Lakhani prefers to deal
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The company’s brands include Gili, Naksha-
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Anil Lakhani himself dons the stylist’s hat to give his creative inputs to collections launched each season.
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Photograph: Bajirao Pawar
“We follow two mantras — innovation in our existing product lines and merchandise depth to offer the best choice to customers; and creating an interesting and engaging retail environment.” with challenges. “We follow two mantras that are followed world over — innovation in our existing product lines and merchandise depth to offer the best choice to customers; and creating an interesting and engaging retail environment where the customers can have indulging shopping experience,” he says. So, Gini and Jony’s latest stores have been designed with the objective of giving a contemporary look while creating a niche for the brand. “The new stores represent our increased commitment to provide our customers with the best experience,” he adds. With women and kids as majority consumers, a soothing environment has been planned. The new stores are being designed more ergonomically and are kid friendly. The layout of the store is free flowing so that kids can pick their own clothing. There is eventually no denying the fact that ours has transformed into a brand conscious society and dressing up qualitatively is no more tut tutted as vanity or personality snag. It is a fundamental requisite of a cultured person, a fact that is etched in Lakhani’s mind. And so Anil Lakhani dons the stylist’s hat to give his own creative inputs to collections launched each season even as he keeps an eye on fashion trends from international fashion forecast by fashion houses in the UK and Italy. It is said that every idea is generated and nurtured by him, bringing it to a simmering style statement each season. With a rich experience of 23 years in the industry, Anil Lakhani is hands on with the design and marketing functions of the company. He is the business brain and the creative faculty with his finger on the pulse of the market, and by that we also mean the young customers. It won’t be wrong to say that when it comes to kidswear, he is the man who made it by being a child at heart.