MY Noorani started his business on August 11, 1954 as a partnership firm in the trading business. His first consignment was glass juicers made of glass imported from Yugoslavia which arrived completely broken, and he lost all his capital. Undeterred, he bounced back and slowly built the business successfully. In the late ‘50s, he imported fabric for a firm in Bombay, investing all his capital. Unfortunately the buyer changed his mind and cancelled the order, leaving MY Noorani saddled with fabric. With entrepreneurship in his blood, he converted them to ties which he went about selling to stores in Bombay. To his pleasant surprise not only did they sell well, but the customers wanted more. Before he knew it, he was in the neck tie business and the Zodiac brand was launched. From Ties he moved into other accessories which finally culminated in the launch of shirts in the ‘60s. Hard work and integrity, coupled with an eye for design and unflinching quality led the House of Zodiac from success to success, eventually resulting in the company getting listed in 1994.
The vision of the founder Chairman was to make these high quality products available to consumers in a high quality environment, where they could touch feel and be embraced by the House of Zodiac. In order to achieve this on April 16, 1973 its first retail store was opened at The Taj
Mahal Hotel in (then) Bombay. Today, the store still stands tall and proud at almost double the space that the brand started with.
By the turn of the millennium the company had built around 40 stores. It was then decided to organise them into a retail chain, modernizing them and embracing technology as an enabler. As on date, ZCCL operates over 120 company-owned company run stores, with an eﬀort to oﬀer its high quality products in an environment that matches or exceeds the consumer expectations. Zodiac also has gone Omnichannel and has taken a strategic decision to sell their brands only on their own web store www. zodiaconline.com.
MY Noorani realized that in order to build the company and its business into a high quality, premium, fashion house for men, the concept of high quality would have to be carried into everything that the company did, including Corporate Governance.
This could only be achieved by carrying the company to the next level which is why it was listed in 1994. At this time there were no norms about number of Independent Directors, yet right at the inception 75 percent of the board was constituted with eminent independent directors, each a stalwart in their field, who brought their vast experience to the business. In fact the Audit Committee instituted to ensure Corporate Governance compliance across ZCCL is chaired by a highly respected former MD of India’s largest bank SBI. Today, Zodiac Clothing Co. Ltd. is a vertically integrated; trans-national that controls the entire clothing chain from design, manufacturing, distribution to retail sales. With a manufacturing base of 7 million shirts and sales oﬃces across India, UK, Germany and USA, ZCCL* has over 2500 people in its fold.
The company operates a 5000 sq ft Italian inspired design studio at its Mumbai Corporate oﬃce building which has been awarded a LEED Gold Certification. High quality, innovative colours and designs are the raison d’être of the House of Zodiac from its very humble beginnings. Not only does this still hold true, but the products on oﬀer for the discerning contemporary male have been expanded from ties and fine accessories to shirts made from the finest long staple Egyptian cotton. Today Zodiac maintains a strict
policy of non-discounting and creating products of world class quality and design for the Indian consumer and maintaining a price – value relationship.
There is a proliferation of brands and also customers. Same in the case of channels to sell. While the order of the day seems to be discounts and promotions coupled with “fast fashion” there is still a set of customers who demand the finest quality clothing. As the market is maturing so are the customer preferences. These are interesting times and the future
of the clothing business seems to be challenging and
The Brand’s vision for 2020 and beyond is clear to the concept of giving great quality and design which is percolating from a tiny tip of an iceberg to a larger audience. As the tastes and preferences of this consumer evolve ZCCL will continue to gain.
Diﬀerentiated Brand Positioning Strategy
ZCCL has clearly diﬀerentiated positioning for each brand,they address a dressing need and profile of three diﬀerent customers. Zodiac a premium, classic, men’s wear brand, of the longest standing in India. The brand is positioned for the classic yet contemporary male’s wardrobe. Zodiac’s product range has fine wool and pure linen suits and trousers, jodhpuris and bandhgalas and come with shirts crafted from the finest cotton and linen with woven silk ties to match. All accessorized with silk pochettes, sterling silver and rhodium finished cuﬄinks set with semi precious stones and fine leather belts. The brand is retailed across more than 1,800 counters across India.
ZOD! a trendy, fashionable brand launched in 2002. Positioned as Club Wear and enjoys the first-mover advantage in a category that the brand actually created in India. ZOD! is targeted at socially active, young males who want to dress trendily when they step out in the evening. It oﬀers a range of trendy shirts and skinny ties. The ZOD! line is high on design content and in tune with fashion trends internationally. Available across India, the brand is retailed through more than 1,000 counters from Jammu to Trivandrum and from Bhuj to Shillong, capturing the young male’s attention and brings him into a Zodiac store. Eventually this consumer will graduate to formal shirts or smart casual wear.
z3, launched in April 2008 just before the world wide down turn and really got a fillip in 2010 post the economic revival in India. The brand enjoys a wide base of users especially those that do not wear a crisp, formal shirt and a tie to work (Software, Media & Advertising executives and self-employed businessmen). All z3 shirts, chinos and boxer shorts are given the brand’s ‘Trademark Vintage Wash’ for an incredibly super-soft hand feel – which is the USP of z3. The casual, relaxed look is achieved by a lightly puckered collar and plackets coupled with removable collar bones. Currently, z3 is available at over 1,000 counters nationally and is a fast growing brand.
Formation of Zodiac Clothing
Here’s how the transition from a conventional unit (Stage 1) to becoming a seller to various retailers and then on to opening a retail store boutique (Stage 2) and finally to becoming a large organization (Stage 3) happened:
- India was again undergoing a social and economic metamorphosis. Readymade clothing, cars, colour TV’s were seeing the beginning of ‘consumerism’. The Indian consumer was shattering myths, redefining preferences and breaking traditions.
- It was then that Zodiac was revamping its manufacturing base to prepare for the readymade shirt boom. ZCCL was listed on the BSE in 1994 with a stellar board.
- Simultaneously, while building Zodiac as a brand in India, the company was steadily building a huge clothing export business. Oﬃces were set up in New York, London & Dusseldorf with local sales and design professionals.
- A 5,000 sq. ft. design studio headed by a trained garment designer was initiated in Mumbai. Trends, designs and styles from across the world were accessible to the company. This design driven philosophy and manufacturing strength made Zodiac take its next bold step
- Zodiac shirts with the ‘Made In India’ label were taken to retailers across Europe and the U.K. Zodiac shirts were retailing internationally at premium prices alongside Boss, Armani, Thomas Pink and Gieves & Hawkes – in Holland at the Bijenkorf, in the U.K.at Ciro Citterio, in Germany at Neckermann and across the Middle East & Mediterranean at Splash
Over the years the ZODIAC brand has constantly been innovating its product at the premium end:
- In 2002 a collection of structured shirts made from long staple Egyptian cotton woven in gas mercerized 2 ply fabrics in counts going as high as 2/120s & 2/140s
- In 2005 an exclusive Summer collection of Pure Linen shirts, trousers, jackets and bandhgalas which have since become a hallmark for the brand and its welcomed by the discerning premium customer
- In 2007 their Limited edition, Bespoke & Made to measure shirts called Regale in 2 fold Egyptian cotton fabrics, woven in Italy going up to 2/300 counts In a few years they added French linen & the extremely rare Sea Island
- Cotton In 2008 Zodiac went with its long sartorial heritage & evolved sense of fine tailoring for men and launched Suits crafted from super fine 160s and 180s lightweight, pure wool
- In 2012 we added options in Wool Silk, Wool Mohair & a genuine Travel suit with stretch
- In 2016 – Carletti “ The Transcontinental Shirt” was launched – shirts made from a single Air 100’s Italian fabric which is challenging to sow but the shirts are just pure luxury
Zodiac embarked on a COCO strategy to build on its existing retail store network. Every store has an international look and feel, built with South American rose wood veneer and installed with premium fixtures. There are more than 120 COCO Zodiac stores across India. The brand launched ZOD! Club Wear in the year 2002 to attract the young, trendy dressing male. Foray into casual wear – z3 Relaxed Luxury: A need gap opened in the premium casual wear market when the leading brand in the segment had changed hands. Zodiac launched its casual wear brand z3 in 2008.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Zodiac’s new corporate oﬃce building in Worli, Mumbai has just been awarded a LEED Gold Certification. With a 62 rating on the HIGGS index for its manufacturing plants, the focus on sustainability and environment protection is foremost. The brand has gone live with the first “Z.L.D.” Zero Liquid Discharge plant in Indian garment manufacturing.
ZCCL was the first woven garments company in the world to get the SA 8000 certification. Based on customer requirements continuous audits on social, environment, factory and logistics are conducted for standards set by SMETA, SEDEX, CT-PAT, etc. Today, Zodiac’s capacity stands at 7 million Shirts p.a., 750,000 ties, 1 million socks, 350,000 trousers and 125,000 jackets.
The Family Which Started it All
MY Noorani’s sons have played pivotal roles in taking the business to newer, higher level from when they joined.
Anees Noorani joined the House of Zodiac in 1968, and after successfully developing its export business and scaling up its overall operations, became Managing Director of the organisation in 1980. Today he is responsible for overseeing the management of the organisation, corporate aﬀairs and finance.
Salman Noorani joined the House of Zodiac in 1982. He is responsible for setting up the company’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities and international marketing operations in London, Dusseldorf and New York. He leads a dynamic team of professionals, ranging from Design & Manufacturing to Sales & Marketing, which has successfully launched ZOD! and z3 in the Indian market.
The vision of the founder Chairman was to make these high quality products available to consumers in a high quality environment, where they could touch feel and be embraced by the House of Zodiac.