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Indians, whether rich, middle-class or poor, spend a fortune on their weddings, which are often celebrated over days and with a multitude of guests. But the pandemic proved to be a dampener for India’s estimated $14 billion wedding wear market, with strict restrictions imposed on gatherings. As the pandemic wanes and with restrictions now lifted nationwide, wedding celebrations are kicking into high gear again. Ravi Modi, the media-shy chairman and managing director of Vedant Fashions, the country’s largest retailer of men’s ethnic garments, is poised to benefit.
The company reported an 84% jump in revenue to 10.4 billion rupees ($138 million), with net profit more than doubling to 3.15 billion rupees for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2022. In the first three months of 2022, the company opened 17 stores, taking its total store count in the country to 595 stores. These stores cover a combined total of 1.1 million square feet, which the company is looking to double in the next few years.
Modi, 45, took his 23-year-old company public in February 2022, when it listed at a valuation of $2.8 billion, at an 8% premium to the IPO price. Shares are up 12% since then with market cap now at $3 billion. Modi debuted on Forbes World Billionaires List in April this year with a fortune of $2.5 billion. That has increased to $2.7 billion despite a falling stock market and a weaker rupee.
Modi started working at his father’s garments store as a teenager. At 22, he decided to start his own company to mass-produce affordable Indian ethnic garments, with 10,000 rupees ($235) borrowed from his mother in 1999.
Modi, who married early at 21 and became a father a year later, named the company Vedant Fashions, after his son and branded his garments Manyavar, which denotes “eminence” and “respectability” in his native Hindi. The men’s range, for example, includes kurtas, Nehru jackets and sherwanis.
Over the next two decades, he built his ethnic fashion empire across 223 cities in India, and also overseas in the U.A.E and the United States, targeting the Indian diaspora.
Today, Manyavar is the largest brand in the men’s wedding wear segment, in terms of revenue and profitability. He ventured into women’s wear in 2015 with Mohey. In 2017, he acquired Mebaz, a heritage garment brand popular in the southern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Vedant Fashions offers no discounts and has added more brands to its portfolio: While Manyavar is the mid-priced brand, Twamev is the premium range and Manthan is for the mass market. It has roped in popular Bollywood stars such as Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt as brand ambassadors.
The company keeps a close watch on its bottom line. Modi’s son Vedant, who now works at the company as chief marketing officer, said in a recent conference call with analysts that “We have a strong growth trajectory with industry-leading margins, return metrics and a healthy cash generation. Every rupee of working capital can generate an equal rupee of profit after tax with 90% being free cash flow.”
As per Mumbai analytics company CRISIL, India’s ethnic apparel market is projected to grow between 15 % to 17 % over the next three years to touch nearly 1,375 billion rupees ($18.3 billion) by 2025. Annually, 9.5 million to 10.5 million weddings are celebrated in India with daily budgets on average ranging from 1 million rupees ($13,000) to 2 million rupees ($26,000), according to CRISIL.
Bharat Chhoda, research analyst at ICICI Securities said in a January report that increased spending on weddings will further expand the market, putting Vedant with its strong brand franchise in a sweet spot. That should make India’s king of wedding bling even richer.