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Mothercare Dominates Infantwear Market in India

01 Nov 2018

Apparel Resources

Image Courtesy: krnmimarlik.com

The kidswear apparel segment thrives on the promise of safe and quality clothing unlike adult fashion, which has a strong influence of detailing and styling. Multifold guidelines are laid out year after year to define the dos and don’ts for kidswear apparel from the biggest details such as fabric texture and feel to the smallest ones such as the shape of a button or the length of a drawstring. This fact alone resonates with the success of Mothercare, a British kidswear apparel and lifestyle retailer that has been exemplary in championing quality over opulence.

Since its inception in India in 2009, Mothercare has successfully made a mark in the Indian retail industry as one the most popular brands in kidswear apparel, especially for the division that caters to toddlers and infants.

Premium quality and a relationship with consumers based on trust and loyalty are the focus areas of the company, emphasises Anshu Grover Bhogra, the Buying and Planning Head of Mothercare, further adding,

We want a long association with both the mother and the child. There are several features and products in our store that are very child-friendly and mother-friendly too. Other retailers might offer toddlers’ clothing but the stress on quality gives us an edge. Anyone can sell a sleepsuit at Rs. 199 but giving a quality product at that price is critical. Thus, our newborn segment doesn’t have competition in Indian market, and it caters to 50 per cent of our revenue.

The Mothercare product mix boasts of three best performing categories: Infants (for kids till the age of 18 months); Baby Fashion (for the age group from 3 months to 36 months); and finally, Junior Fashion which comprises just 15 per cent of the lot (the age group from 3 to 8 years old). There is an overlap of four sizes for the last two divisions but their signatures vary when it comes to colours and styles.

Mothercare Baby Garments and High Quality Basic Clothes

Not just limited to premium apparel, the brand also offers a plethora of kidswear accessories, toys and lifestyle products and houses several brands such as Graco, Philips Avent, Ergo Baby, Medela, Merifor, Pigeon, Rekaro, Snuz, etc. From travelling car seats to sippers and diaper bags, Mothercare is a one-stop solution store for parents.

About 80 per cent of the brand’s presence resides in the metro cities and they are striving to expand business avenues through their existing stores in cities like Kanpur, Indore, Surat as well as new openings in Tier-3 segment.

We definitely do better in metros. But, if business lies in Tier-1, then aspiration lies in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities. The way to capture the latter’s aspiration is by having more Mothercare stores in those cities and by providing a different product mix. It’s a play of want versus need, 

argues Anshu.

Another factor that can be attributed to the brand’s success is the significant shift from unorganised sector to corporatised retail which falls in line with the recent buyout that made Mothercare come under the umbrella of Reliance Brands Limited. With the recent change in management, the brand has now applied several policy changes according to the new conglomerate it belongs to. The biggest initiative of this acquisition has been the complete shift from a very strong discount structure to a non-discount brand where discounts and markdowns are limited to the End of Season Sale period.

We want to maintain the standards. We are priced very reasonably as Mothercare is not a luxury brand, so there is no scope for markdowns, 

explains Anshu.

Mothercare follows a systematic design, sourcing, development and production system that is followed globally. A design team, based out of UK, decides the styles for both fashion and core segments every season. The Mothercare India team visits the headquarters every three months to choose the assortment to be retailed in India. This process happens eight months prior to the launch as the global team utilises this time for sourcing, production and the final procurement.

Mothercare Lifestyle Products

Within Mothercare’s entire global supply, about 40 per cent of the range comes from India, especially basics, such as knitted T-shirts and bodysuits, while Bangladesh provides about 38 per cent of its supply which include denim pieces such as bottoms, dungarees, value addition applique, etc. The brand also sources high-quality trims from UK and China. Referring to the shift in sourcing patterns by Mothercare, Anshu reasons,

“Base is shifting from India to Bangladesh just for one reason – better quality and better prices. It is cheaper as there are no import duties.”

Speaking about the potential growth Anshu concludes,

“A kid is born every 51 seconds in India and Mothercare can cater to 1 per cent of that population. The business is immense in the sector. The distribution might be limited for now, but it can be increased to elevate the business up to 10 times.”

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