In a bid to expand its footprint across the country, Aditya Birla Fashion & Retail Limited (ABFRL) plans to open around 470 stores in FY 20. The company, which owns Madura Fashion and Pantaloons Fashion and Retail, currently has over 2,700 stores.

Ashish Dikshit, Managing Director, Aditya Birla Fashion & Retail Limited, told BusinessLine , “We are looking at adding about 400 stores for Madura and about 60-70 stores for Pantaloons this year.”

Acknowledging the fact that there is a market slowdown Dikshit said that the industry performance has been subdued. Despite market slowdown, the company posted a profit at ₹21.56 crore for the quarter that ended on June 30, 2019 which was 285 per cent higher than the same time last year. For this quarter, Madura added around hundred new stores but the net addition was about 77-80 as some stores were closed. Seven Pantaloon stores were added during the first quarter.

The Madura business segment comprises lifestyle brands- Louis Philippe, Van Heusen, Allen Solly and Peter England and fast fashion labels - Forever 21 and People. For this quarter, Madura’s revenue increased 9.62 per cent to ₹1,210.35 crore as against ₹1,104.06 crore in Q1 of 2018. Pantaloons reported a 9.5 per cent increase in revenue at ₹890 crore as opposed to ₹812.54 crore same time last year.

The company’s total income was at ₹2,082.97 which was approximately ₹161 crore more than the corresponding quarter. Net sales was 7.94 per cent higher at ₹2,065.46 crore during the quarter, compared to the same time last year at ₹1,913.52 crore.

On muted results and the industry’s outlook, he said, “Sometimes when the markets are not very good, wholesalers would tend to lower the level of stock, which means a primary purchase will come down. But that shouldn't worry us because it will come back as soon as the consumers are back in the market is back,” he added.

The company’s expenses went higher than the previous quarter at ₹2,047.83 crore as against ₹1,916.39 crore, up 6.85 per cent.

Fast Fashion segment witnessed a 10 per cent decline in revenue from ₹88 crore in Q1 FY19 to ₹80 crore in Q1 FY20. The EBITDA loss on a comparable basis was ₹9 crore against ₹6 crore in Q1 FY19. The segment includes brands like People and Forever 21. The company to eventually merge People brand in Pantaloons store as a private label.

“For Forever 21, we need to get a few elements of the business right in terms of store sizes, products. We have recently started to look at local production wherever possible, to reduce the impact of the duty that we have to pay and look at margin improvements in that business. After that it's very scalable, because the brand is very, very desirable,” Dikshit said. “Fiscal would go in getting the math right for both Forever21 and People, but it could reach a profitable level for next fiscal,” he added.