The Outperformers 2017

Creative Destruction

Sanjay Lalbhai wants to sell apparels to everyone — men, women, kids; budget, premium and luxury buyers 

Siddharaj Solanki

Sanjay Lalbhai is effortlessly stylish. The dapper 63-year-old is dressed for this meeting in trendy nylon trousers he picked up in Japan, an ultra-lightweight black blazer and white linen shirt. “I shop both at home and overseas. I like checking out new brands, apart from wearing my own,” he says. Shopping for clothes can be a bit of a busman’s holiday, though, given the Arvind Group chairman’s line of business – at last count, it had a portfolio of around 30 apparel brands, many of them global high street icons on licence to the Ahmedabad-based apparel and retail major. But Lalbhai’s not complaining; Arvind has come a long way from when he took over in the 1980s. Lalbhai transformed the family- owned cotton textiles company into one of the world’s largest denim manufacturers and then, a few years later, steered it out of humongous debt and oversupply into the apparel and retail business. The strategy is working: in FY17, Arvind Lifestyle Brands clocked revenue of Rs.2,900 crore, 26% more than the previous year. Profit, too, has doubled from Rs.29 crore to Rs.58 crore during the same period. Not bad at all for a company, which at a group level, had a debt of Rs.2,270 crore and a loss of Rs.70 crore in 2002.