The fashion industry in India has seen a massive transformation over the years, thanks to the influx of global brands, robust expansion undertaken by domestic players, emergence of online retail, introduction of positive policy reforms and entry of start-ups. Jain Amar has been a name that has stood strong and successful through it all, carving a niche through its portfolio of brands that have built a loyal clientele with their trendy designs and trustworthy quality.
Of Jain Amar’s several brands, the one that contributes 85 per cent of its turnover is Madame, which specialises in fast fashion and in-trend merchandise, along with casual and party wear for women. Executive director Akhil Jain, now 38 and part of the new generation at the helm of Jain Amar, says, “Today, Madame caters to 22 categories in the women’s western wear segment—from t-shirts, tops, dresses, jumpsuits, formal wear and denims in summer, to jackets, coats and sweaters in winter. The brand also offers accessories like handbags and footwear.”
Presently, Madame has over 150 standalone stores across India—a big jump since its inception 18 years ago, when its flagship store was launched. Jain says, “These stores cover a total space of 1,50,000 sq ft in high streets and shopping malls. Every year, we attend close to 5,00,000 unique customers at these stores and service another 50,000 online.”
Madame was honoured as the ‘Most Admired Retailer of the Year: Fashion & Lifestyle’ for ‘Largest Women’s Wear Chain Expansion’, at the Images North India Retail Awards 2018. Akhil Jain is seen here receiving the award.
An early start
Akhil Jain’s family migrated from Rajasthan to Punjab generations ago, so he has little knowledge about his ancestral home, except that it was in the town of Osian. Jain Amar dates back to 1939, with Akhil Jain’s great grandfather, the late Chunni Lal Duggar-Jain, starting with manufacturing and distributing men’s scarves, mufflers, socks, gloves and caps in Ludhiana. In the 1970s, the family business went into restructuring, with the onus of mentoring the next generation falling on Akhil Jain’s grandfather, Kastur Chand Duggar. “My grandfather would also spend time on socialising for the business, while his elder son, my father Sunil Jain, would be involved in the day-to-day operations,” reveals Akhil Jain. This was also the time when the business expanded into men’s pullovers and cardigans.
Growth and diversification
In the late 1980s, inspired by the stylish Western winter wear for women during his frequent travels to Europe and perceiving a growing need for them in India, Kastur Chand Duggar’s younger son, Bipan Jain, launched a new brand under Jain Amar called ‘Gold Queen’ and began manufacturing pullovers and cardigans for women. The gamble paid off and with it began Jain Amar’s foray into Western-style winter wear for women, which was an instant hit.
Akhil Jain attending ‘Logistica’, an event organised by SSI Schaefer (a leading provider of modular warehousing and logistics solutions) in Graz, Austria, in 2017
Emboldened by the success, Jain Amar diversified into summer wear for women comprising t-shirts, pyjamas and night suits, under a new brand, ‘Madame’, in 1993. The focus was on offering innovative Western designs, at par with international quality standards. It was not all smooth sailing, but Madame managed to win over customers and extended its footprint from North India to the southern and western India, and even the Middle East. The next few years were spent on establishing the brand’s presence in multi-brand outlets across India, followed by the setting up of the first standalone store in Mumbai, in 2002.
Taking up the baton
As for Akhil Jain, after schooling in Ludhiana, he earned a Diploma in Fashion and Clothing Technology from National Institute of Fashion Technology in New Delhi, and then completed his Executive Education Programme in Business Excellence from IIM Ahmedabad, in 2020. Simultaneously, pursuing a career, he worked as an intern at a garment export house in Delhi after college, and then joined Jain Amar in 2003, as a trainee executive, selling mufflers at one of its wholesale outlets. Jain says, “Here, I spent six months understanding the tricks of the trade such as liaising, public relations, customer service, etc. Serving water to customers was also my responsibility!” After this, he moved to the company’s manufacturing facility in Ludhiana, where he, along with his brother Vibhav Jain (presently Director – Procurement, Jain Amar) learnt first-hand how every department functioned, be it design or production or warehouse management.
A model wearing a blouse-skirt ensemble from Madame’s Eco-Wear collection
Aiming for the top
Akhil Jain became the creative director of Jain Amar in 2007 and took up the responsibility of handling business development and marketing. He also went on to build and run Jain Amar’s biggest manufacturing facility till date (spanning 2.5 lakh sq ft), before becoming the executive director in 2012. Since then, he has embarked on organisational restructuring at Jain Amar, centralising and decentralising the business structure where required; served as a project manager to bring up a state-of-the art Mother Distribution Centre with automatic sortation and dispatch facility in Ludhiana in less than a year; and played a vital role in doubling the turnover in six years. Yet another of his big achievements is that he continues to work with the employees who worked with his father and uncle, and there is “no generation clash with the old assets”.
In 2017, Jain Amar moved its headquarters to Gurugram, and a year later, Akhil Jain along with wife Sumedha, daughter Bhavika and son Bhavyam moved in to manage and scale up the operations further. Currently, he handles the sales, marketing and public relations side of the business. He has also been coordinating the smooth transition of roles within the business to the present generation.
Jain Amar has its manufacturing facility in Ludhiana and offices in Gurugram and Mumbai now. It employs 2,000 people. Asked about the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Akhil Jain says, “Instead of expansion, most of the. companies including ours have switched gears to the sustainability model of the business.” Nevertheless, Madame has already launched six new stores during Unlock phase, following an improvement in demand in Tier-II cities across the country. “In the next five years, we aim to double our turnover and set up two overseas branches,” concludes Jain.