Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

We create fashion, we don't sell garments: Tony Ruiz of Mango

During his first visit to India, Ruiz, CEO, Mango, and Nandita Sinha, CEO of Myntra, sit down for an exclusive conversation with Forbes India about Mango's growth plan, partnership with Myntra, the global fashion industry and more

Naini Thaker
Published: May 15, 2024 11:06:34 AM IST
Updated: May 15, 2024 05:00:09 PM IST

We create fashion, we don't sell garments: Tony Ruiz of Mango Nandita Sinha, CEO, Myntra (L) with Toni Ruiz, CEO, Mango. Image: Hemant Mishra for Forbes India

“We sell fashion, not garments,” says Toni Ruiz, CEO of leading European fashion brand Mango. The company celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2024 at a time of strong business growth, which has led Mango to present its new Strategic Plan, 4E, until 2026.

The origins of the premium fashion label date back to the 60s when Isak Andic arrived in Barcelona from Istanbul. He started buying flowered, hand-embroidered blouses from a sailor in the port and then sold them to stores in the Catalan capital. This created the seed of Mango.

Forty years later, the fashion group touched a turnover of €3 billion for the first time, with 2,700 stores in over 115 markets. “In a very competitive environment, Mango has managed to significantly increase its sales, achieving the best results in the company’s history,” he says. “The work carried out in recent years is bearing fruit: We are growing above the market, we are profitable and we are financially healthy.” Their next big objective is to touch sales in excess of €4 billion by 2026.

The fashion label entered the Indian market in 2014, via a strategic partnership with fashion ecommerce company Myntra. Building on the partnership, in 2017, Mango opened its first store in New Delhi through Myntra’s B2B entity. Currently, Mango India has 110 stores and growing. One key aspect that ties Mango and Myntra together is their joint “passion for fashion”. Mango brings in the fashion and Myntra, the tech and data, to create an omnichannel experience for customers.

Last week, Ruiz visited India for the first time to discuss plans for the Indian market for the next 10 years. The Mango CEO along with Nandita Sinha, CEO of Myntra, sat down for an exclusive conversation with Forbes India about Mango’s growth plan, the global fashion industry and more. Edited excerpts:

Q. Tell us about Mango’s strategic plan for growth
Ruiz: We have outlined a strategic plan till 2026 called “4E”, which focusses on Elevate, Expand, Earn, and Empower. Our aim is to exceed sales of €4 billion by 2026.

I have seen lots of other European brands fail because they don’t have a unique positioning. The first E is for Elevate. We create fashion, we don’t sell garments. We focus on our style, and quality is very important for us. All of our designing takes place in Barcelona, which helps us control quality. With these at the core, we want to elevate our brand further.

Also read: Vishal Tolambia: Working towards a better planet with sustainable fashion

We have 2,700 stores globally, which is a great number as compared to many of our competitors. But we want to touch 500 stores, and refurbish 150 in the next three years. The online channel consolidated its growth, exceeding €1 billion in turnover for the first time, which accounts for 33 percent of the group's total turnover. It is not only geographical expansion, but also expansion to newer categories such as men, kids, teenagers and more.

We closed 2023 with historic results achieving a turnover of over €3 billion for the first time—15 percent more than in 2022. Our net profit was €172.1 million, more than double of the €81 million generated in 2022. With ‘Earn’, we want to continue growing our financials across online and offline channels and geographies.

Empowerment to me is the most important—we want to hire the best talent from all over and empower them to be competent to achieve our goals till 2026.

Q. How did this partnership with Myntra come about?
Sinha: Our partnership dates back almost a decade. As we were on the journey of creating a premium and aspirational fashion experience for our consumers, we realised the need to bring global brands to India. And Mango was the perfect fit.

On one hand, Mango creates fashion and doesn’t sell garments; and we are always keeping up with the fashion quotient with our offerings. We are trying to elevate fashion through technology, and all the innovation that we do is to ensure we bring the best for the Indian consumer. We started in 2014, and four years later, through Myntra’s B2B arm, we also set up offline stores for Mango. So, together we have been creating a robust omnichannel experience. But we are only getting started.

Q. What makes India such a unique market and what are some opportunities you are looking to tap?
Ruiz: We are convinced that, in the future, India is likely to be one of our most important markets and will move from the top nine markets for online to top five.

Speaking about customers, I think Indian people are unique because of the textile tradition. You are very good at understanding quality and prints. It was really a challenge not only to explain our DNA, but to show that our fashion fits in with the customer and the market.

Also read: Vishesh Khanna: Offering fresh and edgy take on luxury apparel

So far we’ve done a good job in understanding and adapting our collections for the Indian user. But we need to further understand the market city wise, and, in some cases, even neighbourhood wise given how starkly different consumers are in each locality.

Sinha: The Indian consumer is evolving today. They are not only about the influences that they see in their geographical vicinity, but they are exposed to global trends and they want those trends. And they are expecting brands to bring the best of the trends to the country—increasingly, both in women and men. About 75 percent of Mango’s consumers are in metro and Tier 1 cities. There is an opportunity to go to the Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities to bridge the gap between aspiration and access.

Q. How are you building for the Indian consumer?
Sinha: While the collection remains global, for India, we did a special Diwali collection that was available online as well as in stores. This did really well, since it was timely and met Indian consumers’ demands.

Recently, we ran a ‘From Barcelona, With Love’ campaign with Indian influencers. So that really helped Indian consumers understand the global collection better. Our focus is to create for India and communicating how Mango’s collection works here.

Q. What are some challenges you foresee in pursuing this ‘4E’ plan?
Ruiz: I feel there are two main challenges. As we expand globally, we need people who believe in the brand—to continue building a team with a strong culture and with the same core values will be key. Second is innovation. I feel innovation must be in our DNA. Preparing for artificial intelligence and how we will build on this with customer experience will probably be the most important thing.

Q. The global fashion market is growing fast, what is the future potential of the industry? And do you think it’s hitting a point of saturation?
Ruiz: I think there is a polarisation in this industry. You can see a lot of people selling garments, but I feel that few are looking at creative fashion. This polarisation, in my opinion, is only increasing.

We like to focus on design and quality. We are creating fashion by adapting trends and understanding the customer. The end result is something unique, and our customer really appreciates that. That is why I’m very confident about the future.

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In our main market, Spain, our market share is around 3 percent. We have a great opportunity to grow, not only in Europe but also in US, Canada and, of course, in India. The international business accounted for 77 percent of total turnover in 2023. Among the countries with the best results are Spain, France, Germany, Turkey and the US, which has entered the top 5 of the ranking of markets in terms of turnover.

We are also seeing a lot of opportunity in newer categories. Man and Kids and Teen recorded a strong performance, with turnover growth close to 20 percent, and now represent 11 percent and 8 percent of the group's total turnover, respectively. Woman continues to be the driving force behind the group's sales with growth close to 15 percent.

It all boils down to positioning. If you don’t have a differentiated positioning, it will be difficult to survive in this industry. This is why we are trying to elevate our positioning, not just maintain it.

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