iconimg Monday, May 04, 2015

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, June 23, 2013
From telecom to e-commerce, call it a generational shift. Anant Nahata, 29, son of HFCL promoter Mahendra Nahata, is betting big on high-street e-retail and has roped in British multi-millionaire Lord Waheed Alli as the chairman of Koovs.com-an 18-month old company that sells premium fashion labels and brands directly to customers.

Along with Alli, who was till recently the chairman of the $3-billion (R17,800 crore) British online fashion major Asos.com, Robert Bready, a former product and trading director at Asos.com, has also joined Anant Nahata-promoted Koovs.com.

“There is a large gap in the online premium fashion space in India and the Asos.com success can be replicated here,” Nahata told HT.

Internet commerce — of which e-tailing is the second fastest emerging component after the online travel industry ---  in India has evolved over the past decade into a R40,000-crore industry in 2012, as per estimates of Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), the industry body of online and mobile value added services.

Direct sales by consumer-brand manufacturers is one of the fastest-growing areas of net commerce.

While consumers can cash in on great bargains, for sellers e-tailing model offers lower overheads and variable costs.

“Companies save heavily on real estate rentals, staff salaries, stores’ maintenance expenses and also on time taken to set up stores,” Nahata, who studied at the University of Pennsylvania, said.

Alli, who was the chairman of Asos.com for 12 years and halved his stake in the company in 2011, will  provide “vision to develop Koovs.com as a fashion retailer of choice”, Nahata said.

Bready, backed by a design and buying team based in London, will be responsible for leading creative design and retail. Nahata’s wife, industrialist Kamal Oswal’s daughter Neha, is a fashion director in the company.

Koovs.com, which sells trend apparel for women in the age group of 18-35, plans to offer its own in-house label as well as premium international and Indian brands. Nahata said there were no plans to exit after driving up the company’s valuation, though “at some point in the future we may require to raise funds.”

Last year the government eased rules allowing foreign retailers to set up mega stores in India with an equity participation of 51%, but foreign investment is banned in online retail stories.