Westside, the lifestyle store from the house of Tatas is both trendy and individualistic, providing not just value for money but also a great shopping experience, available 365 days a year. Westside, which is already a part of the city’s landscape in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, Chennai, Bangalore and Kolkata, is now also available at Delhi.

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Securing the highest profitability among retail chains standing at 10 per cent of the total revenues, Westside saw net profits grow by 74 per cent.

With sales per sq ft at Rs 6,800 per annum, the 14 stores are spread across nine cities. It launched five new stores in the previous financial year. Behind the launch of brands like Too fast for you, Richmond, Urban Angels in the last one year, Westside comes out with 35,000 new designs on an annual basis. Its loyalty programme, Club West, with a membership of 2 lakh customers are offered services like privileges booklet, No questions asked replacement for even up to one year of purchase. It also was responsible for starting several new services like alteration within one hour, and making available to customers a piece through an all-stores search.

Westside’s elegant interior, the prime location, exclusive parking and courteous store staff, the hallmark of Westside, are set for the ultimate shopping experience. Westside has ushered in the concept of brand retail outlets in India, creating a sophisticated infrastructure with in-house designers producing the exclusive Westside range. The Tata stamp of quality on the products comes after stringent quality control and the pricing respects the extremely price-sensitive nature of the India consumer.

At Westside we are not retailing any other garment brands. We stock only our own store brands. This means that all the stuff available is made or sourced by Westside itself and therefore the store label ‘Westside’ acts as a product label. Only in a few categories such as cosmetics and toys are brands other than Westside present. Those are categories that complement the Westside range.

We have positioned Westside on the ‘fashion at affordable pricing’ plank. By retailing our own Westside brand we are able to eliminate intermediaries and therefore offer better prices. Westside is unique with its own brand of merchandise, which is trendy and individualistic. We cater to the shopper who values not just the product but the total shopping experience.

To cater to this need, Westside has its team of in-house designers who design exclusively for the store. All merchandise passes the stringent quality standards that befit everything that carries the Tata name. The products at Westside are not just of high quality and reasonably priced but are contemporary and stylish as well.

Westside stores stock men’s wear, women’s wear, lingerie, kid’s wear, household accessories, cosmetics, perfumes and other fashion accessories. Each of Westside’s departments offers a complete range.

For women, there are western casual, western formals and very classy ethnic wear with a look unique to Westside. In western wear, again the range spans basic lines to very trendy casual wear. Unlike a lot of stores, the range at Westside caters to a wide age group and takes into account differing tastes and requirements. Also in its endeavour to cater to the demanding tastes of the chic and fashionably inclined who need constant pampering, Westside has included a range of designer garments by Monisha Bajaj, Anita Dongre, Wendell Rodricks, Mona Pali, Krishna Mehta and will continue launching new designer labels.

The ladies section includes a pleasing mix of western wear, salwar kameez and sarees to formal and very chic Indian wear, uniquely Westside in style. There is also an exclusive collection of lingerie and nightwear. The men’s wear section caters to all, from formal to casual to sporty, with designs coming in an equally accommodative price range, from value for money to the premium segment. Westside believes in exclusive treatment not only for men and women but also children, their most special customers. The kid’s wear section is bound to be a parent’s ultimate choice with garments for a newborn to those for a pre-teenager.

The household section is one of the most contemporary with every item exclusively selected to cater to Westside’s exacting standards. The merchandise is well co-ordinated and customers can mix and match and put together a range to suit their own style. From co-ordinated towels and bathroom sets to bed linen; from crockery down to bric-a-brac for the household, the consumer’s options are enhanced by the wonderful array in the gift section for all prices and occasions.

The accessories section includes handbags, jewellery, scarves, hair accessories, cosmetics, perfumes, watches, sunglasses and a whole lot more. Whatever the product, Westside designers understand the range of their customer’s fascination, their favourites and foibles, as their designs span from the very basic to the stylised and very trendy urban wear, while also keeping in mind the entire age range of Westside aficionados, each with their special needs.

The Westside story: Fashioned to succeed

Style, affordable prices, quality — these are the factors that have shaped Westside’s success story in the retail fashion stores business. Launched in 1998 in Bangalore, the Westside chain has, ever since, been setting the standards for other fashion retailers to follow.

The Westside story really began in 1997, when the Tatas sold Lakme, their cosmetics business, to Hindustan Lever and acquired the Britain-based Littlewoods retail chain. A new entity called Trent Limited emerged from this move and Littlewoods was renamed Westside. Today Westside has seven outlets, one each in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Mumbai, Pune, New Delhi and Kolkata.

Westside stands out from the competition for a variety of reasons. One is that a majority of the brands the chain stocks and sells are its own, unlike retailers who store multiple labels. About 90 per cent of Westside’s offerings are home-grown, and they cater to different customer segments. The other 10 per cent includes toys, cosmetics and lingerie.

Facing  the  challenge
The greatest challenge for Westside in its quest for a place in the retail sun is not the competition from similar organised players, but from the unorganised sector (98 per cent of India’s retail garment industry operates in the unorganised sector). According to Mr Chakrawarti, the task at hand is to get people who usually shop with unorganised players to visit organised stores such as Westside.

The general perception in India is that organised retailers are far more expensive than unorganised ones. Westside’s response to this dogmatic view has been to connect price to quality. “We had to get customers to realise that they were getting the latest style at very good prices, and in a comfortable environment,” says Mr Chakrawarti.

The other challenge for Westside is that the retail fashion business in the country is becoming increasingly crowded with new players, Indian and foreign. Among the new entrants have been Wills Sport, Raymonds (Be), Globus, Nike, Crocodile, Mango and, the latest, Marks & Spencer. But this does not perturb Mr Chakrawarti, who says it’s ironic that while Marks & Spencer is actually a value-for-money brand abroad, it has positioned itself in India as a high-style clothier, selling at prices way above that of its competitors.

Customers are what everyone is after, and it is they that Westside is concentrating on. Continuing research and surveys have helped the chain build on customer loyalty. “We’ve learned enormously through the years,” says Mrs Tata. “It is absolutely essential to listen to customers — what they want in terms of style and price, and to understand the demographics of it all. It’s continuous learning.”

An example of this commitment to customers is in the small matter of Westside tailoring its products to suit particular regions. The chain learnt that customers in south India tend to be smaller in size than their counterparts in the north, and in some cities women rarely wear sleeveless dresses. Knowing these facts has helped Westside get the right balance in terms of products and the people they are intended for.

An assured return-and-exchange policy reinforces customer confidence in the chain. No questions are asked and a bill is not necessary. “We can do this only because it is our own merchandise,” says Mr Chakrawarti. “Many-brand stores are governed by the exchange-and-return policy of the various labels they sell.”

Another winning Westside idea is Club West, a customer loyalty programme launched in May 2001. The 30,000-plus members of this club get rebates at restaurants and on holiday packages from the Taj Group of Hotels, home delivery of alterations, and best of all, special shopping hours on the first day of any discount sales event organised by the chain.

While Westside does its regular brand building through advertisements in the media, more important are its in-house promotions, which peak during the three main festive seasons: summer, Diwali and Christmas. The promotions are mostly theme based, with decorations to match, live bands and other attractions. So last year’s Westside show had a Hawaiian theme and this year the chain has gone the ‘Wild West’ way.

Expansion is high on the Westside agenda. The chain is planning to open more outlets in cities where it is already present — Mumbai and New Delhi will have a second store soon — and in some of the mini metros. The big handicap here is the lack of readily available retail spreads. “To find space for a large-format store is becoming increasingly difficult,” says Mrs Tata. “Either the rates are too high or space is just not available.”

That deterrent should not be more than a blimp in Westside’s upward trajectory. The chain being onto a good thing has resulted in Trent’s retail business making a profit for the first time (in the third quarter of 2001), and Mrs Tata is optimistic about doubling turnover in the next two years. The company is now looking to get into food retailing, but the plans on this front are still under wraps.

Fashion and food — the fusion promises to bring wholesale success to Trent as it consolidates its position in the retailing business

Celebrating the season at Westside

Westside, Mumbai

Walk into the store and you walk into a celebration. There’s a magical pull around you that communicates one message loud and clear: it’s the season for fun ‘n frolic and joie de vivre. “At Westside, we add a dash of colour and sparkle to life through these events,” says Mumbai store manager Bryan Dasilva.

Westside is a trendy lifestyle store, dedicated to giving the customer value for money. Keeping in step with the seasonal theme, here’s a store full of surprises:

A treasure trove of gifts…
The melodious chiming of wind chimes draws you to the a corner of the store full of delightful things. The chimes, made of metal and wood and based on the principles of feng-shui, bring peace and harmony to your home. They make great gifts too.

Also good as gifts are the variety of scented, colourful candles. Some of them are quite ornate, carved in red, silver, gold and other attractive colours. Complementing these light accessories are equally fancy candle stands in wrought iron.

Aesthetically pleasing fashion accessories…
Add glamour to your outfit with an elegant handbag, a silk scarf, or maybe just an unusual hairclip. At Westside, matching accessories to your favourite outfits becomes a fascinating experience.

While on accessories, don’t miss the crochet handbags. Smart and trendy, they look good at work and with casualwear.

Colours of the season in western wear…
Westside’s western wear range comes in soft and sensual pink, cobalt blue, lilac and fuchsia. This section has the maximum of new arrivals for the Christmas season, for, according to the store manager, western outfits are more in demand at this time of the year.

A range of reasonably priced ethnic wear…
Ethnic wear is given an innovative touch by the store’s in-house designers. Interestingly, churidars, kameezes and dupattas have each been placed on different racks. This has two advantages — the customer is free to mix and match as she fancies; and you don’t have to pay for a whole set when all you want is the kameez or the salwar.

The pains the store takes to display its products and value them competitively is obviously paying dividends. As Himani Patel, a regular at Westside, says: “You get value for money, as this store offers a range of products at affordable prices.”

Novel and arresting displays…
An array of meticulously arranged and artfully colour-coordinated bed linen and cushions tempts even the casual vsitor to buy.

Something to look forward to…
Westside plans to start stocking a range of masks and sculptures, including wall masks in metal, with apparent tribal-Indian influences in terms of colour and look. These are coordinated with a range of sculptures in ceramic.

What shoppers have to say…
“It’s a great shopping experience as the entire family’s interests are served. You find everything under one roof. The store also has a cafe which makes life easier as shopping and eating out go hand-in-hand,” says Rohit Bhattacharya, a regular at Westside.

Sera Rebello, a resident of south Mumbai, visits the store with her children on weekends. She explains why: “The store is spacious, giving me the freedom to move around. The kids can safely wander around on their own, without me worrying about them.”

When asked what was the unique feature of the store, a young college student browsing through the cosmetics section, replied, “It’s the ambience that makes a difference. As you enter the store there’s a sense of warmth and freshness in the air. Also, the theme of any festival is very artfully carried out, which makes shopping a more fulfilling experience.”

Westside wears a festive look:

Westside, the trendy lifestyle store from the house of Tatas, is all dressed up for the coming festival of lights. The store’s branches at Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad, wear a bright, festive look and, in keeping with the mood of the season, are  hosting a festival of delights for the next four weeks.

With the sole objective of rewarding its loyal customers for their patronage, Westside has lined up a bonanza of surprise gifts. Every shopper gets a scratch-and-win card which entitles them entry into a contest. Those making purchases above Rs 1,500 are also entitled to receive other pleasant surprises.

With its autumn-winter collection on display, Westside is all set to dazzle customers. The collection draws its inspiration from Indian culture. The intricate and interesting use of embroidery adds elegance to the garments, which are made in silk and other fine fabrics, besides the usual cotton, nylon and synthetic wear.

The trendy household section has a complete new range of bed linen in elephant motifs, floral motifs and paisley design. The colour palette for the festive collection includes flaming orange, royal blue and other vibrant colours to depict festivity.

The gift section has a plethora of gifts — terracotta pots, urns, knick-knacks and diyas in beautiful colours, shapes and sizes. The store has also introduced a new range of  furniture and other household goods, including cabinets, butler trays and mirrors in wood with an antique finish. An innovative range in wrought iron and rope has been introduced in utility items which include magazine racks, folding stools, jam pots on trays and ganesha in brass and terracotta.

So spend a delightful day shopping at Westside and — maybe — come home in a new car!

Conclusion:

In India the retail sector is the second largest employer after agriculture, although it is highly fragmented and predominantly consists of small independent, owner – managed shops .There are over 12 million retail outlets in India , and organised retail trade is worth about Rs.12,90,000 crore (September,2003). The country is witnessing a period of boom in retail trade, mainly on account of a gradual increase in the disposable incomes of the middle and upper-middle class households.. New formats like super markets and large discount and department stores have started influencing the traditional looks of bookstores, furnishing stores and chemist shops. The retail revolution, apart from bringing in sweeping, positive changes in the quality of life in the metros and bigger towns, is also bringing in slow changes in lifestyle in the smaller towns of India. Increase in literacy, exposure to media, greater availability and penetration of a variety of consumer goods into the interiors of the country, have all resulted in narrowing down the spending differences between the consumers of larger metros and those of smaller towns The addition of better and affordable retail space would enable retailers to deliver more better-quality products and services to the consumers, resulting in increase in operational efficiencies and decline in costs for the supply chain. India is one of the complex real estate markets in the world due to the large degree of variation and inconsistence in the market practice and regulatory norms

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