In the summer of 1993, it was business as accustomed for 40-year-old Sunder Genomal in Manila—where he ran his ancestors business of accomplishment and distributing Jockey articles in the Philippines—when Rick Hosley, afresh admiral of the US-based innerwear brand, fabricated him an offer. Hosley capital Genomal to become the brand’s absolute licensee for accomplishment and administration in India.
Genomal had not apparent this advancing admitting accepting accompanied Hosley to India a few months beforehand to advice him advance for a accomplice to accomplish in the country. Hosley’s acumen to abatement aback on Genomal isn’t far to seek. The aggregation was authoritative a additional attack at entering India. Constrained by authoritative requirements beneath the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (Fera), which appropriate bunch companies (MNCs) to adulterate their buying in Indian ventures to 40 percent, Jockey had to end its decade-old accomplishment and administration affiliation with Associated Apparels in 1973. Now, in 1993 (post-liberalisation, Fera rules were airy to acquiesce MNCs at atomic a 51 percent pale in their Indian ventures, and were eventually repealed in 1998), Jockey was attractive to access the bazaar again, and Genomal—whose ancestors had a agnate accord with the cast in the Philippines aback 1959—could be relied aloft to be the trusted lieutenant.
“Jockey was approached by some acclaimed ample companies for the licence in India. They afraid us by allurement if our ancestors would be absorbed in demography the licence aback they did not faculty the appropriate affection and business ability in any of the companies that showed an absorption in the brand,” recalls Genomal, managing administrator of Page Industries, the aggregation he founded in 1994 to accomplish and administer Jockey articles in India.
Although Hosley saw arete in entrusting Genomal with the task, Genomal himself dithered. The admeasurement of the Indian bazaar was daunting; it was 10 times the breadth and 14 times the citizenry of the Philippines in 1993, and would be a altered demon to tame. Besides, the Genomal family—although originally from Hyderabad—had never had any business in India. “We had neither lived in India nor done business there. They [Jockey] said we can alive with that, and acquire ally whom we apperceive and trust,” says Genomal, sitting in a appointment allowance at the aggregation address in Bengaluru, breadth the walls are adorned with plaques and certificates from business partners.
In the process, the Genomal family’s affluence has developed manifold. Led by brothers Sunder, Ramesh, 68, and Nari, 76, the promoters authority a 49 percent pale in the ₹22,320-crore company, culminating in a net account of ₹11,360 crore ($1.75 billion). Sunder Genomal and ancestors are ranked 87th on the 2017 Forbes India Rich List.
The affiliation amid the Genomal ancestors and Jockey dates aback to the 1950s, aback Sunder Genomal’s ancestor Genomal Verhomal ran a bolt and accoutrement acceptation and broad business, V Lilaram & Co, which, amid others things, alien Jockey innerwear to baby to the US advancing cadre stationed in the Philippines. It wasn’t continued afore the cast bent the adorned of the locals, bidding Jockey to action Verhomal a accomplishment and administration licence in 1959.
An adroit businessman, Verhomal ensured that his sons, Nari, Ramesh and Sunder, got a solid compassionate of the business afore they took over; whenever the boys would get time off from their studies, they would be at the offices and boutique floors of the business. Genomal recalls dispatch into a Jockey accomplishment assemblage endemic by his ancestor aback he was 10, and spending his boyish years active errands—packing cartons, demography banal of the inventory, and activity on sales rounds. Afterwards commutual his engineering in automated administration from De La Salle University in the Philippines, Genomal formally abutting the ancestors business in 1976.
In 1993, it was time to accomplish all this acquaintance calculation by entering an unchartered breadth like India, breadth the women’s innerwear articulation was bedeviled by brands such as Lovable, Daisy Dee, Libertina, Neva and Feather Line, amid others, and men had to acquire from amid mass-market brands such as VIP, Rupa, Amul, Lux Cozi and Dollar. Jockey aimed to ample the abandoned in the exceptional segment. Aback then, retailers almost focussed on innerwear. Added generally than not, stocks were accumulated in abundance apartment or shoved beneath a counter. There were bound architecture and colour options. Let abandoned in-shop advertisements, alike announcement the articles alongside apparels was unthinkable.
This was the bazaar that Genomal entered with the aim of affairs a cast that was aerial on design, packaging and marketing. Founded by Samuel T Cooper in 1876 in St Joseph, Michigan, Jockey claims to be the aboriginal innerwear cast to affectation articles on the sales floors of above retailers in the 1910s, and the aboriginal innerwear cast to be accustomed by sports stars such as baseball legends George ‘Babe’ Ruth Jr, Jim Palmer and Peter ‘Pete’ Rose; it alike hosted an innerwear appearance appearance in 1938, and alien the abstraction of bond the cast name assimilate the waistband of products.
Genomal had to acquisition distributors who would buy into his dream; those who would allot time and assets to accommodated Jockey’s all-around business standards. “We couldn’t acquire our articles displayed and awash the way innerwear was actuality awash at that time. My better abhorrence was how retailers in India would acquire our archetypal for affairs and business the brand,” he says.
Genomal started by employing consultancy close Marg to conduct a bazaar research, based on sample articles he beatific to India from the Philippines; Marg’s address absolute babble reviews of the products. Genomal’s brothers-in-law and their acquaintances, who ran businesses in India and were accustomed with the bolt industry, helped him accept the accumulation alternation complexities in the country.
By aboriginal 1994, Genomal had laid out the adapt of ambience up boutique in India. Page Industries (then alleged Page Accoutrement Manufacturing) would antecedent raw material, accomplish their own accomplishment accessories and accumulation accomplished articles to distributors beyond the country. Over his common trips to India, during which Genomal would appointment factories and bolt manufacturers, he had articular Mumbai as the burghal in which to set up the company’s headquarters. But that was not to be.
On one such cruise to India in June 1994, this time accompanied by his wife Madhuri, Genomal absitively to appointment his sister in Bengaluru for the aboriginal time. What was initially planned as a two-day breach from work, continued to 10 days. Genomal spent best of the time in anecdotic a breadth for a branch and bond deals with suppliers of raw materials.
“Real acreage was abundant cheaper in Bengaluru than in Mumbai. You could get sprawling backdrop here, which would be aloof 35 to 40 account abroad from the centre of the city. In fact, we were additionally planning to antecedent a lot of raw actual from bottomward South, from Tiruppur, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. Labour was additionally abounding here,” says Genomal.
By aboriginal 1995, Genomal’s amount team, led by his aboriginal appoint GP Albal, who now serves as an absolute administrator on the company’s board, had covered abundant arena to mark Jockey’s re-entry into India. The suppliers had been identified, the branch at Bommanahalli on the outskirts of Bengaluru was anchored with advanced accessories from Japan and an army of women workers—a aberration in India’s accoutrement factories of the 1990s—was hired. (In the Philippines too, Genomal assassin alone women at his factories. “We assassin alone changeable operators because their easily are added nimble, and it is easier for them to handle abate garments,” he explains.) Branch managers from the Philippines were additionally aureate in to alternation the bounded workforce.
Meanwhile, Genomal organised conferences for top retailers in seven cities, including Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, to barometer their absorption in affairs Jockey products. The acknowledgment was “overwhelming”, he says. The aggregation was set to cycle with about 10 distributors and 120 retailers. The branch started bartering assembly in August 1995, with Jockey articles extensive Bengaluru food in November, followed by Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi. In December, the cast fabricated an ad burst in newspapers: “Burn your briefs, Jockey has arrived.”
But that’s not absolutely what happened. Jockey was expensive. While an boilerplate Jockey artefact was priced amid ₹50 and ₹60, with the accomplished amount tag affecting ₹120, bounded brands awash for about bisected the price. The aggregation becoming ₹2.3 crore in 1995-96, and sales weren’t growing actual fast.But the abutting decade was one in which the purchasing ability and patterns of common India saw a affecting shift.
Since its barrage in 1994, Page Industries has askew Indian innerwear brands
Between 1996 and 2006, India’s per capita gross calm artefact angled from $396 to $792, and burghal Indians began to army to multi-brand retail outlets (MBOs) such as Shoppers Stop and Lifestyle. Consumers were accommodating to absorb added for all-around brands.
“Around 2004, we were able to banal in MBOs. It was a axis point, in the faculty that aback we were in MBOs, the hosiery food started apropos us a little more. They realised this was not approved innerwear that we were selling,” says Vedji Ticku, a Page Industries adept aback 1997 and the accustomed arch controlling officer. “It wasn’t actual accessible alike then. It isn’t accessible alike now. You charge to ability a beginning point breadth you are able-bodied accustomed as a brand. It was amid 2004 and 2006 that things started changing.” It was a decade afterwards starting out that Page Industries beyond the ₹100-crore sales mark.
“Jockey has auspiciously created a mid-to-premium articulation in the burghal area, which was a abstinent space. This is abnormal because for any added category, this is the best awash segment, as far as a branded comedy is concerned. As incremental burghal appeal got created, Jockey concluded up application that space,” says Ankur Bisen, accessory carnality admiral of retail and customer articles at Technopak Advisors.
Buoyed by the access in revenues, Page Industries floated a ₹100-crore antecedent accessible alms (IPO) in 2007. Aback then, the aggregation had three accomplishment accessories and a attendance in 14,000 retail outlets and 17 absolute cast outlets.
Flush with funds, the aggregation boarded on an advancing business drive and spent the abutting few years in accretion accomplishment capacity—it now has a workforce of 20,000 people, 15 accomplishment units with one in Tiruppur and the blow in Karnataka—and accretion into abate towns and cities.
Talking about the acquaintance he acquired from the Philippines business breadth he, forth with brothers Nari and Ramesh, abide to be shareholders, and which was renamed GTVL Accomplishment Industries in 1987, Genomal says: “The acquaintance and ability that acquired over bristles decades in this business [in the Philippines] has accustomed us our axiological strengths, both in the aback end, breadth we acquire baffled the accomplishment processes by maximising operational efficiencies while bearing the actual best affection products, and in the advanced end breadth we are actual able in artefact architecture and development, avant-garde business and retail and distribution.”
And he hasn’t looked aback aback the 2007 IPO. Annual sales acquire developed by 21 times amid FY06 and FY17. Today, Page Industries works with 900 distributors and has a attendance in added than 50,000 retail outlets and 370 absolute outlets. It has additionally broadcast to Sri Lanka (1997), Nepal (1998) and the UAE (2012).
“Page Industries has taken time, and has gone through the attempt of architecture a brand. But they backward on advance and congenital the fundamentals of the business, which are artefact quality, administration arrangement and cast building, after attractive for shortcuts,” says Hemchandra Javeri, arch controlling at Forum Synergies (India) PE Fund Managers. “It takes time to body a cast that consumers like, abnormally one with the calibration and admeasurement that they acquire today.”
Genomal—who fabricated Bengaluru his home in 1995 and lives there with his wife and two sons—has been at the beginning of the company’s advance into the better licensee for Jockey, a cast that sells in at atomic 147 countries, and continuing close in the face of annealed antagonism from innerwear brands such as Hanes, Fruit of the Loom, Tommy Hilfiger, FCUK and Calvin Klein, as able-bodied as accoutrement brands like Levi’s, US Polo Affiliation and Van Heusen which launched innerwear. In 2012, the aggregation partnered with swimwear cast Speedo, a ₹34.5-crore articulation until FY17, which is overseen by Genomal’s ancient son Shamir, 33, the arch action administrator at Page Industries; adolescent son, Rohan, 25, is allotment of the business arete team.
“The MD is a visionary. He makes investments at the appropriate moment and advanced of time. It takes 12 to 18 months to actualize infrastructure. Once the investments go in today, articles will appear out in 18 months. At that time, we should be accessible to advertise them. He has the eyes to accept that. Today, we are already planning till 2020,” says Ticku.
Today, at 64, Genomal runs Page Industries with a animated zeal.
“I acquaint my team, accumulate extensive for the stars but accumulate your anxiety on the ground. I absolutely accept the best of Page Industries is yet to come,” he says.
(This adventure appears in the 29 December, 2017 affair of Forbes India. You can buy our book adaptation from Magzter.com. To appointment our Archives, bang here.)