2012 to see 14 stores in India, SL, UAE and Canada
By Cheranka Mendis
Sri Lanka’s only dress designing manufacturer Timex Garments, under its brand name Aviraté, will launch an aggressive expansion plan in 2012, anticipating the opening of 14 stores worldwide.
Aviraté Chief Operating Officer Asim Younoos yesterday announced that the 100% Sri Lankan brand had grown exponentially over the last year after opening its first flagship store on 7 December down Maitland Crescent.
With five stores under its belt, three in Sri Lanka (Maitland Crescent, Cinnamon Lakeside and Kandy) and two in India, of which one opened last week and the other opening next week in Bangalore, success has been part of the story for Aviraté, he said.
Going forward, the brand hopes to open up two more retail stores in Sri Lanka, Younoos said. His eyes are set on one in the Pelawatte, Battaramulla area and one at the new duty free section that is to be opened at the Bandaranaike International Airport mid next year.
On an international scale, Aviraté is now discussing possibilities of opening shop in Dubai, covering the growing UAE market, while Canada is also on the cards. However, it is India that gets the lion’s share of focus, with 10 retail stores aimed to be established next year.
“We hope to cover areas such as Pune, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, etc. India is a growing market,” he explained. “You have to be aggressive. With big American retail stores now trying to break in to the Indian market you have to mark yourself strong prior to that. Having just one store will not help.” Asked for the investment the company hoped to put in for the expansion plan, Younoos refused to divulge figures but said that for the Indian market, the larger portion was being saved for marketing purposes.
“Marketing cost is really high in India. A full page advertisement in the newspaper would cost approximately Rs. 5 million,” he noted. Billboards, press releases and gift vouchers will be used for promoting in India.
The online business of the company website (www.aviratefashion.com), which was launched in June this year, has picked up gradually. “Online business is the future.” Last week, the company introduced an international customer exchange policy where customers from around the world can send back clothing items that do not fit well and exchange them for other items. “Aviraté will courier it back to them, with the correct fit.”
To prevent such minor quandaries, the company is hoping to tie up with US company Tukatech Inc in Q1 2012 to provide a body scan for customers, which would help when ordering clothes online. The scanner will be in the store and will use 3D technology to scan the customer and give them a username and password which can be entered into the website, following which customers can see which size fits the body type and how well it would fit on a virtual scale.
“The virtual fitting room and in-store body scanners would provide the perfect size and bring down the exchange rate of clothes.” “For a Sri Lankan brand we have reached far, both locally and internationally. Google statistics shows that we have people from France, China and Japan visiting the site. We have also received orders from China, UAE and Australia.” With 400 designs being made for each season – spring/summer and autumn/winter – Aviraté releases 800 designs per year. The brand has six designers working at the Timex Design House in UK giving them the leads on what’s coming into fashion, etc. In Sri Lanka Aviraté has five designers working. “We have prints coming in from UK and USA.” With the opening of Aviraté Café adjoining the flagship store, the business in the food department has been equally good, Younoos said. “We are planning to improve on the café, which was initially opened as a complement to the main business.” The menu has recently been changed and more dishes have been included, especially for breakfast. “We have unique dishes like the grilled Nutella and banana sandwich, Milo toast and Milo dinosaurs among many others,” he acknowledged. “In the next year we will also concentrate on the café and perhaps expand it in a bigger location. We hope to do this as a profit centre and not just as a complement.”
– Pix by Daminda Harsha Perera