‘Give your style staples a rethink’ James Munson
James Munson is the current Managing Director of M&S India. James replaced Venu Nair who left Marks & Spencer on 20th April 2017 to pursue a new role as Chief Commercial Officer for Trent Limited.
James takes care of the growth of Marks & Spencer’s joint venture business in India with Reliance Retail. With 57 stores across 27 cities, India has the largest number of Marks & Spencer stores outside of the UK. The retailer is also growing its online reach across the country via leading fashion platforms Myntra, AJIO and most recently with Amazon.
James is a seasoned retail professional with over 20 years of experience in the industry, including six years working in India and the Czech region. He has held various leadership positions across the business including Store Manager at Camberley and Kingston, two of Marks & Spencer’s largest UK stores. In 2011, he was appointed as Marks & Spencer Reliance India’s Head of Retail including responsibilities for Supply Chain and Visual Merchandise. In 2014, James was appointed Managing Director of the Czech Group with responsibility for 48 stores in Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Lithuania, and Estonia.
India has emerged as the second largest market for Marks & Spencer and the retailer is looking at a double digit growth in terms of store addition in the coming years said a top company management official. The British retailer has celebrated a major milestone in 2019 with the opening of its 75th store in Chennai and another one in Hyderabad.
Going forward with its expansion drive, M&S is now looking at the every growing markets of tier-II and tier-III towns and also plans to increase the products range with more local relevance.
“India has now the largest market for us outside UK. The company clocked a turnover of Rs.908 crore in India in FY 2017-18 and expects to continue its growth momentum further in the next fiscal. “In FY 2019-20, we would continue double digit growth in terms of store addition on like-to-like basis.” – James Munson, MD, Marks & Spencer India
For M&S, India is a “strategic market”, where there is acceptance of international brands and has space to grow.
After recent openings, M&S now has 76 stores across 32 cities and is continuously expanding its presence and has opened six stores in last 48 days
The retail brand sources around 30 percent material locally from India and the rest is from imports and is planning to increase more products which are relevant to the customers in India.
M&S products are also present on the fast growing online sales through its several channel partners. Although, the present contribution of online sales is in single digit but Munson expects it to grow further.
M&S opened its first store in India in 2001 and in April 2008 signed a JV with Reliance Retail to form Marks & Spencer Reliance India Pvt Ltd. Established in 1884, M&S is one of the UK’s leading retailers and trades in 57 markets, with over 400 stores and online presence in 33 markets.
JM. We’ve got fifth of our turnover coming from cities outside the Metros and as we go forward, we’ll see a combination of opening stores in large Metros as well as smaller cities.
JM. We source 30 per cent of our products from India itself and 65 per cent of what we sell is sourced from outside India.
JM. In terms of the weather, in winter, Delhi is cold but Chennai is not. So basis the climate, we have to make sure that we have a relevant offering for every customer.
JM. India has become the largest market for M&S outside the UK. We have 71 stores today and have opened nine stores in the last six months. And we plan to open six stores in the next 60 days. So we continue to ramp up our aspirations of growth within the country and build on the success we already have.
JM. We’ve invested in a number of areas to ensure that the quality of the product is fantastic. Because of the activity we have taken to re-price children’s products, we’ve seen fantastic success and we’ll continue to offer great value in the market.
JM. I think we’ve seen the market develop significantly over the time that we’ve been here and are witnessing increasing number of retail expansion within the country. The stronger pipeline of property is also coming through. So we see a good growth of potential malls in the next 3 to 5 years.
JM. We will continue to invest and what we see today is that India is a strategically-important market for the group. And with the investments that we’re making in terms of localisation of our marketing philosophy is an indication of this and of the seriousness we’re putting behind this market.
JM. We have learnt a lot from the time spent here. And I think we’ve done a good job of keeping customers at the heart of what we do and making sure that the product is relevant to them. We’ll continue to look at how we can grow the business and ways of making ourselves even more accessible to the customer. We’ll also continue to look at adding new stores outside the key metro cities and would be looking for good growth in the online channel as well.
JM. In India I think the status would be similar to that in the UK. We appeal to the SEC A & B consumer base. We are not positioned in the premium segment. What we are doing is to offer that level of quality at an affordable price through scale of volumes. We are able to leverage that because of the size of our business.
JM. The Indian market is becomingly hugely important for us in terms potential because of the size of the market. It’s a key international market among the markets we are investing in. in terms of numbers, the Indian market contributes 6 per cent of our total global sales.
JM. How we localise in local markets is hugely important. When we started selling seven-pack socks, it was a real challenge for us. After adopting the smaller pack size for socks, we realised that customers get a chance to try out our products and later come back and buy in volumes. More people have started to explore our brand given the price points, and appreciate the quality that we offer.
JM. We would continue to open large stores to make sure that we focus on the availability of fashionable products. We will also focus on visual merchandising and shopping experience. This strategy we have adopted in the last two years, and will continue to drive it.