Tata group's retail chain Trent bucks the trend, shines amid gloom

Topics Trent | Trent Ltd | westside

Consumers open their purse strings when they walk into Westside stores from Tata group company Trent. When rival fashion chains felt the slowdown pangs for the second straight quarter during the three months ended June (Q1), Westside went the other way. The chain reported its highest same-store sales growth (SSG) in six quarters for the period at 12 per cent.  

Most other fashion chains including names such as Brand Factory, Pantaloons, Shoppers Stop, Central and V-Mart, in contrast, reported SSG of 2-7 per cent in Q1. This was lower than the 3-9 per cent range they had reported in Q4 of the last financial year.

At the heart of Westside's retail strategy, say experts, is parent Trent's relentless focus on quality, affordable pricing, contemporary designs and an efficient supply chain. This has ensured that the cash registers continue to ring at all times. A mail sent to the company elicited no response till the time of going to press.

But in its annual report for FY19, Noel Tata, chairman, Trent, said Westside, which gives the company 90 per cent of its revenue and is its flagship retail chain, would continue to focus on its collection of in-house brands in the future. 97 per cent of Westside's merchandise consists of its private labels.

Sources: Company, Capitaline
Besides this, an efficient and scalable supply chain would be critical to growth, Tata said. The company was also working on improving its reach through offline stores and a stronger online presence apart from providing a "fashion theatre" experience at its outlets.

At the end of FY19, Trent had 150 Westside outlets, with plans to add around 40 stores in FY20, said analysts tracking the company. The company does not give a quarter-wise break-up of store additions. 

But the increase in store additions for Westside in FY20 versus FY19, when it added 27 outlets, said analysts Bharat Chhoda and Cheragh Sidhwa of ICICI Securities, was led by a need to build scale quickly as traction for its retail concept grew across markets. The chain has a presence in nearly 80 cities across the country.

Arvind Singhal, chairman, Technopak, says the introduction of formats such as Zudio had aided Trent’s value retail proposition and is expected to help the company tap consumers across the price pyramid. “Westside is for those at the mid-end of the price pyramid and this is being pushed aggressively too. While Zara and Massimo Dutti, Trent’s joint ventures with fashion retailer Inditex, are for the brand conscious,” he said. 

Last week, Trent said it had raised over Rs 1,000 crore through a preferential allotment of shares to its promoter Tata Sons, as it sought to finance its expansion plans and reduce debt. Sector experts said Trent could use the money to push its presence into smaller towns and cities as fondness for its clothes across formats grew.

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