75 years and counting: How Greenways grew from a knitting shop to a sought-after ethnic wear brand
Connaught Place is one of the largest financial, commercial, and business centres in New Delhi and the go-to destination for shoppers. This bustling area in the national capital has never failed to surprise and please, but it didn’t all happen in just a day.
Connaught Place has a legacy dating back to the British era.
And while most of India’s famous brands vie for a coveted spot in this market, Greenways claimed a spot for itself at Connaught Place in the pre-Independence era.
What started as a wool knitting shop by AC Jain and his two brothers in 1942 has now transformed into a 1,400sqft store with a wide range of women’s ethnic wear.
Akshay Jain (44), AC Jain’s son and Managing Partner of Greenways, says,
“My father started the business along with his two brothers and used to deal in pure knit wool and imported wool. They ran this business for seven years and gradually included a range of women’s ethnic wear, including sarees and suits. For the last 75 years, we have evolved in this retail industry, which is set to cross the $1.7 trillion mark by 2020.”
In an interaction with SMBStory, he traces the company’s growth and evolution over the years.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
SMBStory: What is your range of ethnic wear for women and where do you source your fabrics from?
Akshay Jain: Greenways has a wide variety of women’s ethnic wear designs, sourced from different parts of the country, including Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu. From banarasi, paithani, to kanjivaram and bandhani, we have a wide range of collection in a variety of fabrics.
The collection across our four stores in Delhi is unique, innovative, and combines international trends and contemporary designs in a creative manner to bring out elegance and style in today’s woman. It also draws inspiration from the textile heritage that India boasts of. The weaving and designing are done at the weaver’s facility. As a brand, we often help the artisans in providing trending designs.
Greenways has three stores located across Delhi in Pitampura, Noida, and Vasant Kunj and we also export to Mauritius.
SMBS: How have you evolved in the business keeping the 77 years of legacy intact?
AJ: The brand has been running successfully for 77 years now with a collection of handloom, pure fabric, and handcrafted material. Back then, when the business was established, everything was made by hand, right from sourcing of fabrics to weaving a complete saree.
Today as well, we believe in leveraging the Indian handloom space and collaborating with artisans who are with us since the inception of the brand. We have an age-old loyal customer base besides the new one, bringing people from different generations to our shop. I believe that our quality of fabric and designs have evolved with us keeping the legacy of the brand intact.
SMBS: What are the major challenges in your business and how are you taking on the competition?
AJ: Since the business requires procuring fabric from different states of India, it was initially very difficult to gather weavers who were remotely located. With technological advancements, the distance may have become shorter, but the process is still time-consuming. Apart from the sourcing, another challenge is to manage the workforce that spans across different age groups.
Talking about competition, I believe our expertise in procuring the material differentiates us from others. Our niche is the handloom and printed products that range between Rs 1,000 and Rs 4 lakh. The diverse collection in every price range helps us target all kind of customers, which is why we are continually growing and generating profits of five to 10 percent each year. Every store records an average footfall of 20,000 customers monthly.
SMBS: What are your expansion plans?
AJ: Greenways only has an offline retail presence. However, in the near future, we are planning to launch our own website to sell online. We are soon to open our fifth store in Gurugram and are in the process of launching some more stores around Delhi/NCR.
(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)