Sharad Venkta, CEO at Toonz Retail India Pvt. Ltd., maps out the trajectory of the brand in detail, the in-house brands of Toonz- WOWMOM and SUPERYOUNG, the expansion in Tier-II & III cities and the market presence in an exclusive interview with Mommy & Baby Times (MBT).
March 02, 2019
MBT: How would you describe the business journey of Toonz Retail?
Sharad Venkta: Conceptualized in 2010, Toonz opened its first store in Bangalore. With a steady growth and market acceptance, today, it is successfully operating with 100+ stores spread across 64 cities in 16 states including Delhi, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, and Punjab. In 2016, the brand had launched its first store in GCC, expanding its international retail presence. Toonz has associated with world’s best brands across categories giving Indian mothers and their kids an exclusive, international and innovative choice.
MBT: Kindly brief us up about the brands that you offer at Toonz Retail?
SV: We have categories like Apparels, Baby Basics, Nursery and Toys. Our in-house brands: WOWMOM & SUPERYOUNG that were launched in 2012, are the ideal choice as customers can relate with the themes and patterns that we come up with. With fashion, we strive to take care of comfort and in terms of kids’ apparel collection; Toonz is very much in line with the latest trends. Through WOWMOM, we aim to provide fashion solutions for new born to 3 years. With premium and safe fabrics that act as a second-skin to the delicate infants, the range includes everything from small booties, to cute onesies, dresses, shorts, tracks and t-shirts. SUPERYOUNG is for kids in the age group of 3 to 12 years and has denims and shorts, graphic t-shirts, shirts for boys and pretty dresses, skirts, shorts, crop tops, dungarees, jumpsuits amongst others for girls. We had launched “SUPERYOUNG CELEBRATION” some years ago, which includes party wear, fancy dresses, ethnic outfits & casual range for the kids in the age group of 3 to 12 years. We also offer internationally recognized brands in Nursery items and toys and in apparels, we have brands such as Toffyhouse, Mattel, Funskool, Chicco etc.
“It is successfully operating with 100+ stores spread across 64 cities in 16 states… In 2016, the brand had launched its first store in GCC, expanding its international retail presence.”
MBT: How do you assess the market and how would you describe the present day retail market in India?
SV: The Indian retail industry has emerged as one of the most dynamic and fast-paced industries due to the entry of several new players. It accounts for over 10 per cent of the country’s GDP and around 8 per cent of the employment. The Indian consumers have evolved from a “sew & stitch” concept to readymade garment that has certainly propelled the industry to extend its presence to a wider customer base including kids. The last ten years, in particular, have registered robust growth in kids’ wear mainly because the upper-middle-class has grown multifold. Our core revenue comes from Tier-II and III towns as people from these areas are aspirational in nature and they consider both comfort and affordability to buy apparels. Following the franchise model, the company also has a strong online presence with its own e-commerce portal and availability on India’s leading ecommerce portals like Flipkart, Paytm, Amazon & Hopscotch amongst others.
MBT: Since you are into specialty retailing, what do you think are the challenges and opportunities in this market segment in India?
SV: In this market segment, the growing market competition and the emergence of newer niche brands are some of the challenges. Opportunities such as online retailing, smart pricing and reaching markets through an age old dealer network across the vast expanse of the country have ample scope for retail brands to explore.
MBT: Please share with us the future retail strategies of your company.
SV: Our business strategies depend primarily on the kind of market we are looking at and also on the basis of the response we get. India is still a huge market to explore for us and we are expanding rapidly in many markets month-by-month. We are trying to enter by opening up specialty outlets as well and we are also trying to explore areas that are still unexplored as of yet.
“Last year, we opened nearly 25 stores and we are hoping to double that count. We are also pushing our in-house brands by giving them separate brand identities, placing them in accessible stores and areas.”
MBT: What is the strategy of Toonz Retail for capitalizing the business opportunities in the growing Tier-II & III cities ?
SV: Toonz Retail is currently focusing on expansion in Tier-II & III cities. Our strategy is to open in newer markets while strengthening our presence in existing ones. We have got an encouraging response from these markets and believe they are still untapped. In the past few months, we have launched in cities like Kashipur, Roorkee, Dehradun, Ichalkaranji. Targeting 200 stores in the next three years, the company is expanding at a rapid pace. Last year, we opened nearly 25 stores and we are hoping to double that count. We are also pushing our in-house brands by giving them separate brand identities, placing them in accessible stores and areas. Undertaking brand building activities to reach our target groups is crucial to us and we are focusing on key markets by taking them one at a time to invest in resources for expansion.
MBT: What do you think about the evolution in the choices of parents of today’s generation?
SV: Parents today have a gamut of options to choose from, for their babies and kids. They have certainly evolved from buying clothes according to need or occasion to now buying clothes as decided by the latest trend or fashion. The millennial parents wish to get their kids dressed in fashionable outfits and they look for worth as they want trendy wear that is comfortable too.
MBT: Having presence in more than 100 stores across the nation in such a short span of time, to what factors do you owe this phenomenal and consistent growth rate?
SV: Our business model is made keeping end customer in mind. It helps us connect with the customers quickly and build brand loyalty. Factors such as the price, occasion, design and styles are key aspects that a parent looks for while buying the outfit for their kids. The rise in disposable income along with the increase in the number of nuclear families has created immense potential for the growth of the casual wear segment. And we understand the importance of expanding our reach to Tier-II & III cities as this part of the country still comes under the untapped market that has significant opportunities.
MBT: Tell us something about the international market presence of Toonz Retail.
SV: We are currently present in KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) with three stores running. Internationally, Toonz’ Brands (WOWMOM & SUPERYOUNG) are available in Nepal, Mauritius, GCC, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea. The company is targeting parents who care about the quality of product they are buying for their kids and is a brand that forms an important part of the kid’s journey in their growing years.