What is the leadership style that you follow at Monte Carlo?
Monte Carlo follows a centralised human resource policy governed by 14 people. Irrespective of that, the organisation is flexible enough to decentralise when it comes to nurturing new talent. And so integrating into the organisation is not a problem. In my opinion, leadership can best be described as one’s ability to understand the true potential of one’s team. This is closely followed by the leader’s ability to support his/her team in order to help them achieve their individual as well as collective goals in life. The ideal way to support them would be to show your confidence in them. It’s important to tell people that you believe in them. This not only helps them in improving their strengths but also makes it easier for them to work on their weaknesses.
Every new brand has its own ups and downs. What were the challenges faced by Monte Carlo?
As a brand, I don’t recall any major challenge that was faced by Monte Carlo when it tried to establish its presence in the market. However, what did pose a problem for us was the repositioning of the brand.
Initially, Monte Carlo was a winterwear brand. By the time we decided to diversify our brand and make it an ‘all-season lifestyle brand’, Monte Carlo was already quite well known in the winterwear category. Changing the perception of people is always a difficult task.
What does Monte Carlo, as a brand, stand for?
Personally I think our tagline, “it’s the way you make me feel, Monte Carlo” speaks a lot for itself. The brand image that we’ve always tried to create is that of an all-season superior quality fashionable garments brand which is available in the market at affordable prices. We’ve always endeavoured to provide our customers with high quality products. To reduce the distance between our brand and customers, we even started our online shopping portal which actually received a great response in the market. And I think a major reason why Monte Carlo made a great impact in the market was the fact that the brand was very approachable from the start. I think making our products available at multi-brand stores turned out to be a good strategy in the end.
How central are employees to Monte Carlo?
Employees are the face of the brand. That’s why we try to follow the open-door policy when it comes to dealing with our employees. We also try to encourage the hiring of people who are fresh out of colleges as they bring in innovative ideas and also keep the brand well-versed with latest trends. Personally, I think it’s our people and the right pricing policies that have helped Monte Carlo grow. So much so that no pink slips were given out in our company even when India was hit by the global recession.
Could you throw some light on the brand’s annual turnover and its market share?
In the financial year 2013-14, we had a turnover of about $83 million though we are planning to double it in the next five years. The fact that we are the market leaders in woollen knitwear and tees makes me confident that we will achieve this goal.
What are your plans for Monte Carlo in the future?
As I’ve said, we are aiming at doubling our turnover and to achieve the same, we do have some strategies in place. Our presence in India is quite stable. We already have over 200 exclusive brand outlets and are planning to further increase this number. It’s not only the Tier-I cities that we’re looking at. Our future plans include expanding into Tier-II cities as well.
When one talks about our international markets, Monte Carlo is already there in Nepal and Dubai. We are eyeing a few more countries where we think we can establish a strong brand connect. We are still in the process of zeroing in on those countries.
Being a leader may be taxing at times. How do you relax yourself when you’re stressed?
I use work as a stress buster! It’s actually that simple. I love what I do. So it isn’t taxing at all. Apart from this, I spend a lot of time reading – mostly autobiographies as they inspire me. I am into writing poetry and short stories. Another thing that I really enjoy is music, especially ghazals.
On the top of it, I love playing the piano in my free time. Sketching is also one of my favourite pastimes. But if there is something that really relaxes me, it’s spending time either alone on a walk or sharing a laugh with my friends and family.
There aren’t many Indian brands that have established a really strong global foothold. Any observations?
India is a diverse country. Here you find an audience that tends to have different choices, tastes, preferences and also different lifestyles needs and wants. A few years back, Indian markets were dominated by established local and regional business players. This trend is slowly and steadily changing with time. People are more comfortable accepting newer brands when they enter the market.
I am sure that gradually, as the market keeps maturing, this change in mindset will help Indian businesses to develop a more stable platform for themselves in global markets.