Corneliani has seen quite a rough journey in India. As they shake hands with another company, the OSL Group, we try to learn more by interviewing the brand's staunch supporters, Mr Salesh Grover & Mr Prem Dewan
By: Soumya Jain
Posted on: November 25, 2012
India’s trickiness as a market has stumped many a companies which got luxury brands here. Some succeeded spectacularly while others failed. Doing away with diplomacy, Blues Clothing Company (BCC) has been floundering in this business too. Their example is cited in industry presentations now. But genuinely wishing them all the best for all their future plans, we now proceed to analyse the steps that one of BCC’s brands has taken to survive in the Indian market.
The men’s suiting brand Corneliani has now changed ship to OSL Group which has business interests in various sectors like ports, manufacturing, trading, construction, education, hospitality and entertainment. Having a large presence in the Eastern side of India, OSL has now ventured into the luxury retail business under Mr Chandan Mishra, one of the group’s directors. Selling at a price point of INe 70,000 to 2 lakhs, Corneliani already has four stores in India (in New Delhi, Mumbai & Bangalore).
Interestingly, two gentlemen, who had been working in BCC earlier, also changed ship to OSL to stay attached to the brand. Mr Salesh Grover, Business Head at OSL Luxury and Mr Prem Dewan, Retail Head for Corneliani, talk to us about their plans and past in this exclusive interview.
Soumya Jain: How did OSL Luxury come about?
Salesh Grover: If you see carefully, OSL is not only logistics. They are into automobiles, hospitals, shipping, sugar, steel, coal and many other things. In fact they are already retailing BMW and Volkswagen. They are quite strong in eastern part of India. But now they are coming into luxury in a proper way.
Prem Dewan: Mr Mishra, in fact, is used to wearing good clothes and he is a die-hard fan of Corneliani. He had confidence in the brand, so he started this. Plus he has the vision to have many brands under the OSL Luxury umbrella
SJ: Considering the harm that was done to Corneliani at BCC, how do you plan to recreate the brand in India?
SG: Whatever mistakes we have seen in our past, we are simply correcting them.
SJ: What were those mistakes?
SG: Not exactly mistakes I would say, but we are giving attention to aspects like more locations to be introduced.
SJ: And what about in terms of image?
SG: There are many angles we are looking at. So we’ll certainly inform you about what the changes are.
SJ: What are the immediate goals for Corneliani?
SG: Simply correcting the image as you said (smiling)
PD: As well as operations. We are doing whatever is required in sync with their [Corneliani’s] guidelines. So what was not done before, we are doing it now. We have an aggressive marketing plan. We are using various mediums to tap our customers and correct the image. It’s been two months and there are a lot of visible changes we have done. We are getting good response in terms of numbers, so we are very positive.
SJ: What is timeline you have in mind for these changes?
SG: Within this season only, autumn-winter, things will be in the right shape.
SJ: What really happened at BCC?
SG: Simply change of focus. They started focusing more on other businesses like jewellery, which they are really expanding.
PD: They got a little over-ambitious. Otherwise business was good, the brands were doing fantastic.
SJ: Since you both have been in luxury, what do you think brands really need to do in India to capture consumers, apart from offering a well-made product?
PD: We have to give that kind of international shopping experience to a customer, which was earlier not given, especially in Corneliani which is known for that kind of product and service.
SJ: What are the challenges OSL is facing since this is one of their initial steps in luxury?
PD: There are no challenges as such. We are correcting the business, reviving everything, and we are bringing new brands. And since the entire team is well-experienced with various brands, we are a good combination, and we can give good treatment to any brand.
SJ: But do you see mistrust and less faith since people don’t know about OSL yet?
SG: Everyone has to start from somewhere. And OSL is not new to the luxury business. They are already into retailing and selling BMW and Volkswagen. They are simply entering into ready to wear business. Luxury they understand.
SJ: What are your future plans?
PD: We are getting more brands and we want to see ourselves number one in the business. Yes, we are very small as of now, but we are learning, evolving and reviving. We have taken a business which was silent for almost a year and we are doing great things with it.
SJ: Who are your other competitors in India? Canali, Tom Ford, Zegna?
SJ: Brioni?! In terms of sales or product?
SG: In terms of product.
SJ: And in terms of sales? Everywhere we hear Canali. Do you think they are doing well?
PD: Yes, they are doing well. But in my opinion, once people have experienced Canali, they always upgrade to Corneliani.
SJ: What makes Corneliani superior from other brands?
SG: One is their fabrics, all of which are specially procured. All their compositions are exclusive for Corneliani. Second is their cut and construction.
PD: The Corneliani ID line, which is very innovative and young, is something which other brands are not offering.
SJ: Who is a typical Corneliani consumer?
PD: You can say the rich and famous (laughing). A person who is very fashionable, rich, sophisticated who wants to look fashionable as well as subtle. He also understands cuts and quality.
SJ: So it’s for a mature consumer?
PD: Ours is a well travelled customer who has experienced fashion and now wants to upgrade. He now wants to try ultra luxury.
Aditi Soni (handling marketing for Corneliani): It’s actually not a consumer who wants to dress well at work or at a party. It’s a consumer who generally likes to dress well even in a day-to-day life. And not because he wants to show it to somebody, but because he likes to dress well.