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Changing the order

Here are some of the initiatives taken by Monte Carlo under Monica Oswal
By Surmeet Kaur | March 10, 2016

Gentle, affable, and quick to break into a smile are the first impressions you get when you meet Monica Oswal, executive director, Oswal Woollen Mills. In little over a decade since she took over her family business, the woollen wear manufacturing company has grown manifold and extended its footprint to all corners of India. “I never say no to risks,” she says. It is a lesson she has learnt from her father, who she understandably considers her guru. A young and vibrant personality, her deft strategies at the helm of Oswal Woollen Mills have led the company to where it stands now.

The company was initially into menswear, though it used to design limited and selective products for women. Monica single-handedly launched the Alpha Collection for women and the Tweens Monte Carlo Collection for kids of age 9-14 years. It was a big change for the company. There was uncertainty regarding whether market for women-oriented woollen products would be as big as that focusing on men. But, it clearly worked in their favour, and the rest is history.

Monica oversees the brand building, media planning, marketing and retail segment of Monte Carlo Fashions Ltd. The idea of lending an international image to the brand was conceptualised by her. “The ideology of the company is to move ahead with the times. We have made several changes over the years. Youth is our main target now. We are catering to our loyal customers as well as targeting new people. We have been portrayed as market leaders earlier and we still enjoy that position,” she says.

Expanding footprint

Although the brand’s image and marketing have changed with time, its philosophy has remained intact. They have kept their tagline—‘It’s the way you make me feel’— same over the years because it is the crux of the brand. The company is expanding its presence and has over 1,500 multi-brand stores in India. It is also focusing on building its chain of exclusive brand outlets, currently 200. “Patna and Ranchi are important new markets for us. We have also opened stores in Dubai and Nepal,” she says.

Being the market leader, it is essential to think how the market will respond to a new product launch and how a competitive edge can be maintained. To achieve all this, the team at Monte Carlo studies the prevailing market trends and introduces new products every few months. “We have introduced colours other than the basic blue, grey and black, in a wide range of hues. The colour palette that we offer nobody else does,” says Oswal.

What has further helped the company is the understanding that advertising and marketing add immense value to the brand. Their recent advertisement campaign—“Unhide your love”— is bold and vastly different from their usual ads. “Monte Carlo advertisements have been about conventional romance and this time we took a risk. The ad has been received well by our customers,” explains Oswal.

Return on investment

When asked what she likes to do with her money she says it depends on what she is planning to do at that moment. “I save and spend according to my needs, just like a regular working woman. I like to save for a rainy day,” she says. Like a true businesswoman, she likes to see her money grow and invests in gold and the stock market, though sensibly. Her decisions are based on the returns she expects from her investments. On sharing financial advice with other women she says, “One should be prepared to take risks and there should be no regrets. Regrets are your lessons. Women have a natural sense of intuition and they should follow it.”

The company was listed in December 2014 and the stock has been faring well on the bourses. Likewise, in 2013-14, it earned Rs. 82.34 crore before tax on a turnover of  Rs. 501.70 crore.

In an expansion mode, the company is keeping pace with changing trends in the apparel business with a strong e-commerce presence through www.montecarlo.in and has also partnered with e-tailers like Jabong, Flipkart and Snapdeal.

To meet the growing demand, their manufacturing facility is equipped to produce about 1.5 million pieces of woollen knitwear, complete with dyeing, designing and packaging of products. This year, as part of its Summer Collection, the company has introduced ‘Climate Control Denims’, ‘Water-Repellent Denims’, ‘Odour-Free Denims’ and a vast range of coloured denims and chinos.

Under Monica, the business has someone who lives and breathes the brand, which is what drives most ideas to come from her. “The emotions attached to our brand will remain so for us as well as our customers. Love and romance will never go out of fashion!” she signs off. We feel the passion is what drives this company to expand under a strong leadership.

The unhurried leader

What differentiates a good leader from a great one is their ability to understand people they work with. Monica Oswal, credits her team for all that her company has achieved, which indicates the importance she gives to her employees. She believes in empowerment of all in her business team.

“Women in our country lead protected lives and are averse to taking risks. But I don’t believe in it. There are a lot of decisions that you have to take on the spur of the moment. If I feel that the brand will benefit from a decision then I go for it. There’s no holding back then. I am very clear with my reasons for supporting and projecting the idea,” she says.

Her other driving force is her very loving and supportive family which enables her to balance work and personal life effectively. It ensures that she take the right decisions with a calm mind. Her adaptability with the changing times allows her to enjoy the present to the fullest. While she does guide her children from time to time like every parent; she wants them to craft their own future to achieve their goals.

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