Zara’s Indian partner Tata is building its own apparel empire at half price.

Firm expands own brands a after decade managing Zara’s stores.

For nearly a decade, Tata Group has been Inditex SA’s partner running Zara stores in India. Now, the country’s largest conglomerate is building its own apparel empire as trend-focused as Zara — but at half the price. Its retail arm, Trent Ltd., has fine tuned its local supply chain to deliver “extreme fast fashion” which can get runway styles to customers in just 12 days, the same compressed timeline that’s turned Inditex into a $90 billion empire.

Zara owner, the world’s largest apparel retailer, is known for its lightning-quick product turnarounds and bringing new designs from the drawing board to store shelves in just a few weeks.

Trent now plans to open 40 outlets of its flagship Westside chain every year and hundreds of its mass market Zudio stores, where nothing costs more than $15, across India, said chairman Noel Tata in an interview in Mumbai. The target audience: a consumer population that is newly trend-conscious and globalized, but whose low average incomes means that clothing from Zara itself is still mostly out of reach.

While Trent was founded in 1998, it’s only recently started ramping up store expansion efforts in response to growing demand.

“The middle class is growing, incomes have grown, Indians are traveling more and they have more money to spend,” Tata said. “Now that we’ve built this capability and this model that’s working so well, it’s time to grow faster.”

Trent, part of the $111 billion salt-to-software Tata conglomerate, is hoping its quick and responsive supply chain will help it become as ubiquitous in Asia’s third-largest economy as Zara is in the West. But it’ll need to fend off competition from both local brick-and-mortar stores as well as e-commerce giants to do so.

Trent’s ambition to be like Zara will be hampered by India-specific challenges. It’s faced difficulty finding space for new stores, because traditional high streets are a rarity in India’s chaotic, congested cities, said Tata.

It’ll also have to compete with local rivals who offer a similar mix of Western wear and ethnic Indian styles at even cheaper prices.

Trent views trendiness as its main advantage over these competitors. To that end, it’s working to make its fast fashion supply chain even faster, said Tata.

“It makes us more responsive to what that customer is looking for,” Tata said. “By looking at our sales and because we don’t have a long supply chain, we are able to respond to the trends much faster.”

Source –Business Standard 2019Bloomberg

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