by Shubhi Srivastava
28-January-2019 | 9 mins read
With the power of a manufacturing infrastructure that has the capacity to churn out over 6 million pieces per year, Kewal Kiran Clothing Limited, a.k.a. KKCL ,is becoming an inspiration for several stakeholders in the Indian apparel industry. The company is trudging upon a clear-cut path to success from being a jobworker, to a manufacturer, to now reaching the position of being a successful retail group having crossed the magic number of Rs. 500 crore as its reported turnover in the financial year 2017.
KKCL operates through its retail format, called the K-Lounge, which boasts of four major brands that provide the consumers of the menswear segment a one-stop solution store with exhaustive offerings across all categories, age groups and geographical demarcations in the menswear segment.
“KKCL’s five apparel brands namely Killer, Lawman, Integriti, Easies & Dei Belle, comprise products that address the needs of all profiles of the menswear & womenswear consumers, be it diverse age groups, income levels or occasions. We give the clientele a complete look. The product mix has it all, bottomwear, topwear and accessories while our sixth brand, Addiction, which features auxiliary categories such as head-to-toe personal care items and lifestyle products, closes the loop to make us a complete lifestyle store for men in India,” said Lakhbir Singh, the Brand Head – Killer, in an exclusive conversation with Team Apparel Resources.
An assortment of brands
KKCL started its retail journey with its highest grossing brand, ‘Killer’, one of the largest selling denim brands in India targeted at the age group of 18 to 35 years. “It started off as a denim brand but is now a complete lifestyle brand with offerings in apparels, time-wear, eyewear and footwear,” Lakhbir told AR. It is to be noted here that Killer jeans was the Indian denim retailer which introduced new products such as Low Rise as well as Shreds’ jeans in India in 2004.
Going ahead, KKCL then tapped its capability of having one of the biggest denim-manufacturing units to launch another brand, ‘Lawman Pg3’, in 1998. Offering apparels with louder design details than Killer, ‘Lawman Pg3’ features products for consumers between the age group of 18 and 25 years. This brand provides novelty, with more than 22 patents for innovative stitches, washes and construction techniques and is known for introducing Diags (stretched fabric), camel-skin-wash, fume-wash and auto-reverse shirts to the industry.
Launched around the same period was the semi-formal brand, ‘Easies’ which was established to fill the gap of comfort in corporate dressing for young executives in the age group of 25 to 40. It celebrates the confluence of comfort with formals through versatile products ranging from semi-formals to polo-tees, denim shirts to knit shirts and from smart trousers to comfortable three-fourths.
Addressing the demand of a very niche customer base of college going youth, KKCL’s most recent launch has been Integriti. A mass brand that offers progressive styling in contemporary elements and combinations for both casual and formal attires, its product mix is carefully curated to penetrate this consumer segment that operates on lower income but yearns for fashion forward attires.
The four brands are placed strategically at all K-Lounge outlets to achieve compatibility between all categories and age groups. Killer continues to be the brand leader with 48 per cent of revenue share while Integriti is the second largest brand with 22 per cent share, next is LawmanPg3 with 19 per cent Easies and Accessories Division account for the balance 11 per cent. Denim jeans is where KKCL’s strength lies with a significant contribution of about 62 per cent in its overall revenues, followed by cotton trousers and shirts and finally, basics that are retailed via an FMCG-model .
Expansive reach to various pockets and pincodes
With an aggressive approach to offer its consumers an exhaustive collection of garments and lifestyle products, KKCL has made itself available across all tiers of the market pan-India, at competitive prices that attract shoppers from across all corners of India. “The USP of the K-Lounge lies in its pocket friendliness that allows customers to invest in the quality we provide without thinking about the cost-effectiveness. Killer fashion denim merchandise starts from Rs. 1,799 and goes up to Rs. 3,299 but the majority fall under the cap of Rs. 2,699. Integriti & Lawman, on the other hand, retails from Rs. 999 onwards going up to Rs. 2,599,” shared Lakhbir.
The fact that KKCL has not only penetrated the tier 1&2, but is also thriving in Tier-3&4 markets complements its sharp pricing strategies. In fact, the unheard Tier-3&4 cities such as Guntur of Andhra Pradesh, Beghusarai of Bihar, Jaypore in Odhisa, Ramgarh of Jharkhand, Amaravati in Maharashtra, Ballia and Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh are contributing significantly to the total revenue of the retailer. Lakhbir highlighted this fact saying, “Our market expansion to Tier-2&3 cities has been so rewarding that we recorded a hefty trade business worth 80-90 lakh just from Ballia city. We owe this success to our channel partners, who have been working with us for more than 25 years as they are very aggressive in penetration. Our command on distribution makes us the best trading partners because we service any request from pan-India within 48 hours of the order being placed.”
KKCL operates through 192 K-Lounge stores and 125 EBOs with Brand Factory being its liquidation outlet as of Q2, 2018. The products being sold via Brand Factory are, “aged and assortment products that are two seasons old as we don’t push fresh entries there. We always try to control the discount to the max because we don’t believe in deep, high discounting and aggressive promotions,” said Lakhbir.
This reach was achieved via a combination of in-house manufacturing power as well as the efficient sourcing system KKCL has adopted for international vendors. The company is open towards sourcing product categories that lie out of the denim wear domain from the south-east Asian countries. This ensures that the quality of garments it is providing with internally produced denims is at par with its more fashionable products in knits, cords and linen, which can be achieved at sharp pricing for larger quantities via these international manufacturers. Lakhbir further elaborated, “We outsource bomber jackets and zippers from Korea, Japan and China. When we have to buy something in corduroy, we source from Bangladesh and all our linen products are from Asian countries.”
Inching towards success
Out of an impressive number of 318 retail touchpoints, MBOs continue to be the largest sales channel with 44 per cent share for KKCL with best response recorded for Shoppers Stop, Lifestyle and Central. Its performance in the e-commerce sector turned several heads in the industry as its sales through online portals grew by 107 per cent to Rs.14.31 crore in 2018.
The company believes in maintaining a stable growth of 15 per cent and doesn’t want a hasty growth plan that might lead to a downfall in the coming years. This format has been immensely useful for the retailer as it rose steadily from a business of Rs. 75 crore in 2006 to that of Rs. 550 crore in 2018.