FabIndia is the popular ethnic fashion brand in India that operated over 200 retail stores, most of them spread across the country. When Covid hit the world, the company had to shut down all its retail stores, and faced an unprecedented crisis.
The pandemic threw a wrench into every business, and FabIndia was no different. The biggest issue was the sudden stoppage of their most important revenue stream, the retail stores. All plans for expansions had to be stopped since their major source of income was now effectively nullified. Maintaining their cash in hand was now a priority.
FabIndia was also responsible for connecting 55,000 rural artisans and traditional craftsmen to the urban as well as an international market. These people were the ones producing the merchandise that made the company popular and could make a livelihood using their craft. When their livelihood was threatened, the firm had to find new ways to survive the pandemic and take care of them.
Changing the roadmap
For a business like FabIndia, such a disruption could have been disastrous. Luckily, they had a pretty diverse area of operation, one of which sprung forth as a promising venture under the new circumstances. They also had access and contacts to the rural areas of the country, full of skilled workers who were now unemployed. They decided to leverage this situation as best as they could, and started branching out more into products that would sell better during the Pandemic.
Organic Food Products
FabIndia has started focusing more on food and hygiene products as a new source of income. The Chairman of the company, Mr William Bissell quoted that the share of these parts of his business has skyrocketed from less than 3 per cent to between 15 and 20 per cent. He also credited the Uttar Pradesh state government for collaborating with them to increase their Organic food production.
This has allowed the company to not only survive the pandemic but also discover a new revenue stream for their rural artisans and other skilled workers during the lockdown. They took advantage of the demand for hygiene products and organic food to sell products like face masks, organic foodstuffs like honey and others. This was augmented by the fact that a lot of their workforce were from rural areas, helping them to market these items better as well as provide income to these people.
For the longest time, FabIndia had refused to join the online bandwagon, despite many advising the Chairman to do so. He attributes this to his own decision, and concern over losing money like other eCommerce platforms. However, in the wake of the pandemic, this has changed. Though the company is still expected to continue offline retail, lot of its business has shifted online, and this change is necessary.
A business with a purpose
Since William took over FabIndia from his father, Mr John Bissell, he has been committed to creating a brand that reflects and revives the country and its heritage. He is also committed to collaborating with rural artisans to showcase the rich tradition of India through fashion. He believes that this purpose will keep his business safer and better off than others. Whatever the case may be, FabIndia has successfully diversified itself to survive Covid, and many businesses can learn from them.