Raymond's Gautam Singhania
After being battered by the disruption caused by the Covid pandemic, Raymond, a diversified group best known for its textile and apparel businesses, is “cautiously optimistic” about a recovery amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Chairman and Managing Director Gautam Hari Singhania told Moneycontrol.
While its major business interests are in the textile and apparel sectors, the group has a presence across diverse segments such as FMCG, engineering, and prophylactics in the national and international markets.
In FY20, Raymond Ltd had recorded a consolidated revenue of Rs 3,186 crore. In the first quarter of FY21, the consolidated revenue stood at a mere Rs 24.03 crore. The second quarter saw an improvement, but only to Rs 254 crore.
Due to the Covid impact, the company registered a net loss of Rs 242 crore in the first quarter and a net loss of Rs 133 in the second quarter.
Singhania said the retail industry was impacted by the shutdown induced by the pandemic but noted that things are ‘steadily recovering’ and getting better on a week-on-week basis.
The festive season was good for Raymond, said Singhania, adding that he is looking forward to the upcoming wedding season.
“Most of the businesses of Raymond group are at almost 80-90 percent of pre-Covid levels. The retail industry also adapted quickly and ensured a safe shopping environment in addition to a host of convenient options for shoppers,” Singhania said.
Despite being cautious about the overall recovery, Singhania was optimistic on the FMCG business’s prospects. “Our FMCG business has shown healthy signs of recovery and reached pre-Covid levels by almost 95 percent. I am positive of moving forward and see a tremendous growth opportunity in this sector,” he said.
Raymond Group operates in the FMCG segment through its associate companies – J.K. Helene Curtis Limited and J.K. Ansell Private Limited (JKAL). Through these companies, Raymond Group caters mainly to the male grooming segment through brands such as Park Avenue and KS.
During the lockdown, Raymond had launched a slew of personal hygiene products as well as skin-friendly hand sanitisers and cleansers.
Giving an update on the group’s real estate business, Singhania said: “We are witnessing good traction and the response has been encouraging.”
He was quick to add that that the reduction in stamp duty, coupled with bank subvention schemes and low home loan rates, is helping the real sector witness an increase in overall demand.
Among recent projects, Raymond Realty launched 7th Tower in August 2020. Overall, it received 49 bookings in the July-September quarter of FY21, taking the total number of bookings to 1,012.Local for Vocal
Since Raymond is a homegrown brand, Singhania has been strongly promoting the ‘vocal for local’ concept. “I believe in the theory of ‘each one buy one’ and given the large consumer base, it is a powerful ideology that can help India emerge out of the pandemic by bolstering domestic consumption and production,” Singhania said.
In addition to working on building the tailoring ecosystem across the country, Raymond has set up 64 tailoring hubs across the country to craft custom-tailored garments.
Raymond Ltd includes textile and apparels, FMCG, real estate and engineering businesses.
In November 2019, Raymond Ltd had announced the demerger of its core lifestyle business into a separate entity but Covid delayed those plans.Consumer Behaviour
Singhania said that as a large part of Raymond’s store network was shut due to the pandemic, the firm enhanced its omnichannel capabilities and also took the opportunity to launch its own e-commerce website during the lockdown.
“Raymond is building a complete ecosystem that traverses across the digital & physical world and creates an engagement and monetisation platform for our brands in a manner that is appealing to the new lifestyle of consumers,” Singhania said.
“This encompasses … e-commerce, endless aisle, self-measurement, visualisation, concierge services, virtual stores etc. Given the strong brand preference and our extensive retail network of over 1,500 stores in 600+ towns, we are well-positioned to manage orders that we get through the offline as well as online channels,” he added.
Ecommerce has been gradually picking up for Raymond. However,
Singhania believes that in-store experiences play a big part in textile apparel purchases. He believes textile and apparel retail is a touch-and-feel category that is driven by experience-based shopping, so brick and mortar will thrive in India. Consequently, both physical stores and e-commerce are critical for Raymond and will co-exist.
During the pandemic, the company provided concierge services to Custom Tailoring consumers to ensure that they could get tailored garments hygienically.
Singhania said the company had launched Virasafe, an ‘anti-viral’ fabric, which has received a robust response. He added that the firm gave loyal customers a choice to shop virtually through Video calls.
Expansion on hold?
Asked whether the company is likely to scale down plans to open new stores, Singhania said: “Currently, we are monitoring the situation closely and waiting for the economy to get back on track to evaluate any future expansion opportunities.”
With over 1,100 exclusive stores spread across 380+ cities and an expansive network of over 20,000 points-of-sale in India, Raymond and its brands are also available in tier IV & V cities.
Raymond is also undertaking some new initiatives for customisation and personalisation such as Made to Measure and Custom Tailoring.