Fabindia is now a Harvard case study

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Meera Mohanty

New DelhiApril 14It's a brand that does not advertise. It, in fact, celebrates the success of its copycats. And now Fabindia, the craft-conscious enterprise, is a Harvard Business School (HBS) case study.

"It is like playing a tennis match at centre court, Wimbledon in front of a packed stadium. It's a great honour," says Mr Sunil Chainani, Director, who has shared the Fabindia story at IIM-A, and will now be presenting it at HBS on May 1.

According to Dr Mukti Khaire, Assistant Professor, HBS, who has put together the case, students of the Ivy League school are being trained to perform in a globally competitive world, and thus the increasing focus on unique success stories from outside the US. Founded in 1960, Fabindia makes the cut for being an example of a corporation that does not just aim to do well, but does good too. "A strong mission can be both an opportunity and a constraint on the growth of a firm," points out Dr Khaire. However, the private retailer's unique value proposition has not come in the way of it being recognised as big brand today. And this in spite of the fact that Fabindia has never advertised, points out Dr Khaire.

"Our constant endeavour is to resist the temptation of going `mainstream' which is more of a commodities game, and develop and widen the niche markets in which we are the dominant player," says Mr William Bissell, Managing Director, Fabindia.

With 57 stores in the country currently, and one each in Rome, Dubai and Guangzhou, the company is to add close to 200 stores in the next four-five years. And it is also believed to be on a look out for private equity investment.

And, true to its founding mission of creating sustainable employment, it is taking its craftsmen along. From providing jobs for close to 15,000 artisans today, it is hopeful of supporting another 1,00,000 in the next few years.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated April 15, 2007)
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