Raymond has transitioned to more advanced digital value chain: Gautam Hari Singhania

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    By Sanjeev Sharma
    New Delhi, May 6 |
    Raymond has today transitioned to a more advanced digital value chain based on demand side economy and adoption with agility, says its Chairman and Managing Director Gautam Hari Singhania.

    In an interview with IANS, Singhania said: “Until the second wave swamped us sometime around February end, we were witnessing healthy signs of recovery and moving towards pre-pandemic levels. However, varied localised restrictions across states to curtail the spread of pandemic has resulted in the industry facing similar issues that we faced last year.”

    “Overall, with the spike in cases in leading metros like Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, the consumer sentiments are subdued and once again the weddings are being postponed,” he added.

    Singhania said presently, for everybody, the immediate priority is health and safety of family and friends, and, shopping has taken a back seat. “We expect this scenario likely to continue till the second wave subsides,” he added.

    “We clearly have moved away from conventional supply chain of manufacturing large volumes and distributing and stocking inventories way ahead in advance from the season. Today Raymond has transitioned to a more advanced digital value chain based on demand side economy and adoption with agility,” Singhania said.

    Here are excerpts from the interview.

    Q: What are the challenges for retail industry given the new wave of the pandemic?

    A: Until the second wave swamped us sometime around February end, we were witnessing healthy signs of recovery and moving towards pre-pandemic levels. However, varied localised restrictions across states to curtail the spread of pandemic, has resulted in the industry facing similar issues that we faced last year.

    The textile and apparel industry was impacted as a result of lockdowns in several states with supply chain and business getting affected. For retailers, closure of malls and customers not stepping out due to the fear of the pandemic is the biggest challenge. The restricted movement of delivery agents, for online platforms are also highly affected as currently only essential goods and services are allowed to be delivered. Overall, with the spike in cases in leading metros like Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, the consumer sentiments are subdued and once again the weddings are being postponed.

    Q: A revival of consumer sentiments has again been impeded?

    A: With the pandemic at its peak, consumers are generally more concerned about their and family’s safety. Presently, for everybody, the immediate priority is health and safety of family and friends. So, shopping has taken a back seat. We expect this scenario likely to continue till the second wave subsides. Businesses have been impacted because of the curfew, week-end restrictions and curbs on mobility of people. We also don’t see any pent-up demand like the last time. The government opening up vaccines for 18+ is a great move that will help in curbing the pandemic and speed up the pace of economic recovery.

    Q: How has Raymond adapted to the new normal?

    A: We have set together standard protocols and procedures at the stores, which give customers comfort and a safe shopping experience. For consumers who are hesitant to step out of their homes but yet were keen on buying products from us, we showcased them the products through video calls and this service received a good traction with during the wedding season. Today at our 1,500+ stores, we follow stringent hygiene and each staff member has been trained to be compliant to these new working norms. Our stores are at the heart of our Omni channel service model. All products in stores are now available for customers to purchase through e-commerce platforms.

    We clearly have moved away from conventional supply chain of manufacturing large volumes and distributing and stocking inventories way ahead in advance from the season. Today Raymond has transitioned to a more advanced Digital Value Chain based on demand side economy and adoption with agility.

    Q: How is Raymond coping up with the second wave?

    A: We are witnessing localised lockdown or curtailment of movement because of rising Covid cases. Presently, the situation is extremely dynamic. Hence, we have to wait and watch. Employee safety is paramount at Raymond … we have our staff Working from Home. At some places, even manufacturing plants are shut, impacting the business. At most of our factories, over 90 per cent of the eligible staff has been vaccinated. Additionally, we also arranged for transportation facilities for our employee family members to travel to nearby vaccination camps. The situation seems dynamic and we will have to wait and watch as the situation is evolving.

    Q: With the ongoing wedding season, how has been the impact in the suiting sector?

    A: FY21 being a Covid year, the suiting sector was impacted however as people started to overcome their fear during the festive season, the sales picked up suddenly. Given our strong brand equity and loyal consumer base, our suiting business displayed resilience. But now with the second wave hitting the country, it is too early to assess the impact. With more states imposing lockdown and while the others still remain open, the impact on the ongoing wedding season will certainly be there… however, it will be premature to comment anything right now.

    Q: What are the trends and challenges for retail trade?

    A: Organisations are now reinventing themselves to reinstate their relevance to consumers in the new normal. While we see a surge in online shopping during the lockdown, given the nature of the fashion business, brick and mortar retail spaces will always be relevant as experience of touch and feel holds the prominence in this sector. For a textile player, it is very difficult to completely move to digital platforms as compared to other industries. Being one of the largest employment generators, the opening up of the economy is critical for the sector to thrive.

    Q: How does apparel score on list of consumer priorities?

    A: As per the saying, Roti, Kapda aur Makan, textile and apparel will remain the priority. And just like the first wave, we will recover soon from this phase. Once the pandemic is gone and things coming back to normal, people will dress up for occasions celebrating the life.

    (Sanjeev Sharma can be reached at Sanjeev.s@ians.in)

    Source: IANS

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