Tirupur-based The Chennai Silks has emerged as one of the largest retail chain in South India and an integrated textiles company. On the front-end, it registers 30000-40000 footfalls a day at its 17 sprawling showrooms in Tamil Nadu, Kerala & Andhra Pradesh. All these stores put together run up a revenue of Rs. 10 crores on a daily basis because of the exhaustive collection of clothing for men, women, and children, under one roof. These include wedding silks, designer sarees, cotton & silk sarees, and others. The chain sells approximately 3000 - 4000 sarees a day. That's possible because of its exclusive and exquisite collection that has kept pace with the changing customer's taste.
While on the backend it has spinning mills, knitting, printing, embroidery and stitching machines. The group has also invested in renewable energy. Today it generates 80 MW of wind power. This move has ensured uninterrupted power supply at its spinning mills. This backend integration helps it meet 20% of sourcing requirement for its retail stores. Apart from catering to domestic market backend integration has enabled the group to enter international markets. Today it exports to countries like the US, Europe, Japan amongst others. It also manufactures products for brands like Marks & Spencer, Disney, Hanes, Decathlon, Ralph Lauren JC Penney, Walmart, Carrefour and many others. This division and generates close to Rs 350 crores of revenue per annum.
Undoubtedly most of its businesses have been built around its core textile business. One of its related extensions has been in IT. It has built in-house software to handle supply chain management, billing, and sourcing. Besides its forte in textiles, The Chennai Silks has its elite jewelry division, Sree Kumaran Thangamaligai. This store was the first to have BIS 916 hallmarked jewelry showroom in Tamilnadu.
The story of Chennai Silk starts with A Kulandaivel Mudaliar, from a small village near Tiruppur, who was a weaver of dhotis. He set up a 100 sq ft showroom in Madurai in 1962 to sell khadi. Over the next few years, he set up 12 more "Khadi Vastralays" across small towns in Tamil Nadu, gradually increasing the range of products and carrying on wholesale as well retail operations. A large multi-brand showroom was set up in Tiruppur in 1978, followed by one in Erode and another in Coimbatore. They were called Kovai Kumaran Silks. His eight sons subsequently joined the business. Then, they opened a 125,000 square feet store in Chennai in 2000. The name of the showroom was changed to Chennai Silks as there was already a Kumaran Silks in town. Not only this the group has an online sales platform since 2000. This spate of aggressive expansion continued, and today it has around 1.2 million square feet of retail space. The rest as they say, is history.
In the latest episode of Luxury of Poverty AB Ravi, Editor - Special Projects, CNBC-TV18 speaks to Dr A Velumani, Chairman of Thyrocare Technologies wherein he unravels the secret behind the success of Chennai Silks and what makes it tick. Watch out for the show on 6.30 pm only on CNBC-TV18 on May 28.