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General Koutons Rises Like Phoenix From Ashes


Apr 3, 2005
Koutons rises like phoenix from ashes- Retailing-Services-News By Industry-News-The Economic Times

Koutons rises like phoenix from ashes
7 Jan, 2008, 0000 hrs IST,Shruti Chauhan, TNN

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In the 1984 riots in Delhi that broke out after Indira Gandhi’s assassination, DPS Kohli lost all he had—a successful TV retail business, money and fame. What he did not lose, however, was hope.

“Imagine what happens when you see your outlets burn. So, setting up Koutons was like rising from the ashes,” says Kohli, managing director of Koutons Retail India, now one of India’s leading menswear, integrated apparel manufacturing and retail companies of India.

Koutons Retail India was established in 1999. In eight years, it has notched up revenues of Rs 800 crore. The company was listed only last year in October. A native of Sambalpur, Orissa, Kohli shifted to Delhi in 1980 after completing his education. He worked with a few export houses before venturing into the world of business.

In 1981, he started out as the vendor of the Uptron TV but a year later in 1982, he launched his own television brand Apollo. That is when he made his first million. “Due to the popularity of the Asian Games in 1982, there was a huge demand for television sets, which helped me create a pool of wealth,” says Kohli. However, that did not last him long—Indira Gandhi was killed on October 31, 1984.

“It was my grit and determination that helped me bounce back,” says the entrepreneur. Having worked as a consultant to General Insurance Corporation until 1991, Kohli, with the help of his brother-in-law, once again forayed into business—this time in the textiles sector—with an initial capital of Rs 11 lakh. Together they launched a brand, Charlie Jeans, in 1991, and within a year of operation, the brand gained popularity in the northern region. Today, it has a presence across the country and the brand is called Charlie Outlaw.

However, with Koutons came his turning point in 1999, although there were moments of uncertainty even then. “We initially established our office in a two-room nondescript building,” he recalls, adding, “It feels great to sit in a multi-storied office today.”

In 2002, Kohli for the first time launched an exclusive outlet in Delhi’s South Extension area. Today, he has 1,150 stores across the country, of which 612 are dedicated to Koutons and 538 to Charlie Outlaw. Kohli successfully adopted the franchise mode of operation in 2004 to gain visibility.

“While allotting more franchises, we were in search of new opportunities to thrive,” says Kohli. Currently, the company is coming up with a new range of clothing for women and kids, Le femme and Junior, respectively.

Kohli keeps himself geared up for growth and plans his product ranges two seasons in advance to stay ahead of competition. “While our in-house team works on the designs, we also consult the fashion forecast houses in Italy and Europe to decide what kind of fabric will be in demand,” he says. With proper focus and strategies in place, the entrepreneur sure has a pocketful of plans.