Navnit Anand – CEO Body & Soul Indonesia

Salah satu perusahaan yang berhasil Go National, bahkan Go Global adalah Body & Soul, industri fashion yang segmentasi produknya adalah kaum perempuan. Bahkan mungkin, saat ini tidak ada perempuan yang tidak mengenal nama Body & Soul. Brand nya sendiri dimulai dari Bali periode 16 tahun yang lalu, dan perlahan mengalami pertumbuhan pesat dan menjadi merek yang diperhitungkan. Bagaimana perjalanan Body & Soul selama ini, dan strategi apa yang mereka gunakan untuk dapat berkembang, kepada Arif Rahman dan Anton HPT, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Body & Soul, Navnit Anand menceritakannya secara eksklusif di kantornya di Krobokan.

When the first time body and soul started its business in Indonesia?

Body & Soul has been in Indonesia since 16 years ago (1996), begun in Bali with one store. After 16 years, now Body & Soul is the single largest retail garment company in Indonesia. There are have many brands in Indonesia, both franchise and license, but the Body & Soul is a brand which was born and established in Indonesia.

Seriously, Body & Soul comes from Indonesia?

The principal investors were from Australia, but the establishment is 100% Indonesian and we are proud of the fact.

But now, Body & Soul also is outside the country, how about this?

We are now scattered abroad, but the franchise system Body & Soul comes from Indonesia. It is inside out rather than outside in unlike most of the brands. There are hardly and Indonesian fashion retailers who have successfully been able to franchise abroad. We have international online selling which is fast developing as well.

Wow, I think the opposite, Body & Soul comes from outside, it means we’ve been wrong. So, what kind of development of the Body & Soul for 16 years?

We started with one store in Bali 16 years ago, and now we already have 35 stores spread throughout Indonesia. Besides Bali we have stores in Surabaya, Jakarta, Makassar, Manado, Medan, Balikpapan, Pekanbaru, Bandung, Semarang and Yogyakarta. The opportunity to develop further is immense in Indonesia. Establishing the right customer intimacy, recognizing the right customer segment to design in accordance and offering great quality at affordable prices have been our key elements for success.

So far, I see body & soul are targeting the upscale market?

Our target market of middle to upper middle class. The age group we target is youth, career women 25 to 35 years. We also have a Bambini and Teenager line. Body and Soul is a fast fashion retailer. There is continuous research and designing to churn out close to 100 styles in a month. Speed to market with a variety of products is our mantra. Every week you will find new styles flowed into our stores. It is ever evolving fashion.

What distinguishes the Indonesian market with other countries, such as Australia or other countries?

Fashion has no boundaries, like music has no borders. Every country though has a select majority consumer segment. Climatic conditions have a major influence on the styling, color and material selection.
I would say that the west is more quality conscious since fashion awareness is much higher and consumer expectations are therefore much more. Average spending on clothing in the western world is much more compared to this part of the world. It is changing though since there are more travelers now days, the social media and technology is a major catalyst to bring fashion awareness to the smallest of cities. One can compare designs, prices, evaluate colors on their smart phones and surf through a variety of options to select and buy.

Having said above affordable price is the most compelling driver for the majority consumer in this part of the world. The quality awareness is slowly seeping in Indonesia. People have started reading the washing and garment care instructions when they make a purchase. It becomes our obligation to educate the consumer on how to wear and care for the garments they purchase. Over the past years we have seen so many luxury brands coming into Indonesia.

These brands have done little to educate the consumers and their reach is not as vast as ours. There is big gap to fill in the mid tier market which Body and Soul recognizes. It is an opportunity but it is also a great responsibility to satisfy the consumer. I would want our clothing to be liked and be worn by a mixed consumer.

The one who drives a luxury car and the one who uses public transport alike. Fashion for all.

Why Body & Soul was started from Bali, why you chosen Bali, a small place, not in Jakarta, because we often see a large company that was born first in the big city, but this is different, why?

The atmosphere in Bali is highly creative. It is a great place where you can find inspiration in almost everything. This is so essential in our fashion industry. A creative mind needs least distraction and maximum inspiration to apply itself. Our principal creative director fell in love with the place and thus established the brand here in Bali.

With a huge market, and also the number of stores that more and more. What about the material and how many workers are absorbed by Body & Soul right now?

We do our sourcing from factories in China/ Korea/Hong Kong and Indonesia. At the same time we have a small factory in Bali as well where we manufacture. The workmanship is of good standard and it also makes us less dependable on out sourcing. We have a workforce of 350 plus workers across Indonesia. It is important that we create jobs for our local talent and it is also a very important Social Responsibility for us to give back to the society we have progressed in.

What is the difference between foreign products to those in the domestic?

International brands design for global market though they maybe distributing the products specific to country they are retailing in. It is highly impractical and not feasible for these brands to follow country specific accurate sizing and fashion though. Very few have been able to achieve moderate success in doing this. We at Body & Soul recognized and absorbed our consumer segment specifications very well. Given the spread of the archipelago the fashion is also very diverse and sensitive. What sells in Bali is very different from what sells in Makassar or in Manado. In the product mix that we design there as to be commonality with some diversity in styling. We design apparel which is acceptable for the whole Indonesian market.

Our creativity has higher proximity to the Indonesian consumer’s expectation as compared to any foreign brand. International brand. This is a reason good enough that compels us to open more and more stores.

If you look around in Bali, most of the brands have not really branched out to other cities. I would not say they are less capable, but maybe not have enough belief to explore the rest of Indonesia which offers a much larger opportunity.

The present time from people in Indonesia are classified as middle class, and they are interested with products that come from a small businesses such as home-based business, fashion stores, fashion market that delivers a branded product, how you see it?

Every business needs to have a sustainable business plan. If we recognize the expectations of the consumer like we need create our business model in accordance. A one store strategy is no strategy for a fast fashion retailer. Look at the large, diverse population in Indonesia. Small businesses can do well however they can never grow in this country without having a sustainable growth strategy. Every year maybe a 100 over boutiques, retail stores pop up in Bali, Jakarta. Maybe only 5 of these survive and 3 out of these struggle to get the ROI [return on].

Exactly, I agree with you. So, currently, any country that has been there Body & Soul?

We currently have supplies to stores in South American countries and Australia with whom we work on international consignment basis. We plan to have Body & Soul franchised to several other growing markets such as Singapore, Malaysia and India. At the same time we are extremely sensitive for our brand, we pay great emphasis to maintain the identity and standards. We would want licensee partners who can contribute in maintaining the same high standards and follow the good principles and strong work ethics that we practice. It is not about the money but fairness and commitment to our customers.

How much money must be spent by the investor to be able a franchise Body & Soul?

A lot of money … Ha…Ha…ha

Okay, What would be the next target for you and Body & Soul?

Our target is to be a progressive company and fast fashion retailer company, to become number one in Indonesia; we want to be the largest in Indonesia. Open as many stores throughout Indonesia. If there is a good location and offers potential, we would go out for it and have our establishment there. Above all we would like maintain the highest standards of customer satisfaction.

At this time whether there is a partnership for the Indonesian market?

For the moment we do not require outside funding from other parties. I would say we are in good shape. If an opportunity comes along for a Joint Venture which propels International or Domestic expansion in the future we would be open to a create a good partnership.

Thank you very much for your time

You’re welcome.

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