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IFF 2023: ‘Brands need to innovate constantly to survive and thrive’

Top retail honchos said on Tuesday that in order to thrive and survive, companies need to innovate constantly. However, how innovation impacts profitability is a pressing question businesses are facing, they said.

Captains of the retail industry were discussing an engaging topic of The DNA of profitability: Innovation’ on the first day of the 22nd edition of India Fashion Forum(IFF).

IFF is India’s largest and most influential fashion retail intelligence event is being held at Conrad Bengaluru on 28 February 2023 and 1 March 2023. The event is chaired by Shailesh Chaturvedi, chief executive officer of Aravind Fashions Ltd, and powered by GreenHonchos. The theme of IFF 2023 will be decoding DNA of profitable growth, defined by value creation.

The Tuesday session was moderated by Gaurav Sachdeva, COO, Head Retail of Bestseller India and the panelists comprised Dhruv Bogra, Country Manager, Forever New, Revathi Kant. Chief Design Officer Titan Company Ltd, Anand Aiyer, CEO, Easybuy, Max Retail Division, Lifestyle International, Sandeep Pal, CEO, Tasva, Gopa Kumar, COO, Bhima Jewels and Manish Poddar, Co-Founder, House of Rare as panelists.

Today, the dialogue at most business houses has moved to ‘whatever you are doing, there should be a better way of doing it,’ an expert said.

The definition of innovation has changed, and it recently has been taken to another level when ChatGPT surprised us. In business, it all starts with products brands put out.

The session began with moderator Sachdeva asking Kant if Titan missing the estimated target, despite making Rs 951 crore profit last quarter, had impacted the design. “At Titan, design is at the core of every business. It is a key enabler. Apart from product differentiation, it’s equally responsible for topline and bottom line,” Kant replied. “To design something continuous and relative that brings on more consumers is true innovation.” There are dreamers and doers, and today we need dreamers who do, she added.

It’s also essential for organizations to be consistent in innovation and make it a part of the culture where people are allowed to think freely. Innovation thrives where there is heterogeneity. It isn’t only about having a great idea or out-of-the-box thinking; it’s about converting ideas to something tangible to bring value.

On the supply chain, Kumar of Bhima Jewels explains the innovation at his 98-year-old legacy brand. “To keep it profitable, we keep it simple. It’s all about value creation, and can step up to an extent where it can sustain the cost. That’s how we look at innovation and profitability and ensuring that our numbers are met,” he explained. Jewellery as a category is not well understood; something that has worked in other segments may not necessarily work in jewellery, he stressed.

On innovative leadership, Bogra of Forever New shared his experience from his adventurous trips across the Americas, during which he learned survival, planning and constant acting. He applied this when COVID-19 impacted the market by leading the team and boosting their morale. He added that the whole experience of ‘been there and done it’ eventually helped lead the team.

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