Home / Companies / New fashion portal abof focused on millennials: Kumar Mangalam Birla

Mumbai: Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman of India’s third largest conglomerate Aditya Birla Group, launched an e-commerce company in the fashion vertical called abof on Friday. Edited excerpts from his interaction with media: 

You already have an existing platform in the fashion and e-commerce space. How would this latest launch fit in with it?

It is more targeted toward the millennial people because they are the largest shoppers on the sidelines. The target group are the millennials as opposed to the Madura brand that is for a wider audience. So they are completely different product offerings in that sense. There is no plan or any rationale to put the two together.

What kind of a foreign partner would you be looking for?

It is too early to say, we just launched. Hypothetically speaking, it will have to be a financial investor. I don’t think we would look at a strategic investor at any point in time.

We are very open to financial investors at the right time at the right valuation. It is very early to talk about it. We don’t want to give out any numbers. Suffice to say that it is more than enough to make a success of it.

What would e-commerce be as a total percentage of the overall group turnover?

I don’t think it would be sizable in terms of terms of turnover. In terms of valuation, it could be sizable. But I don’t think I can give you a number in terms of comparison in our group.

Would you be investing in the back-end?

The company is looking at outsourcing all the logistics. They (its executives) have come to the conclusion that’s the right way to scale up.

What is the future of e-commerce and start-ups?

I think there will be survival of the fittest. I don’t think the parentage is really that important. Having said that, the advantage is that we understand the industry, whether it is the topline or fashion space.

What happens in other countries is that there is always some consolidation that takes place. It is not as if the winner takes it all.

Why is it a closely held company and not under the Aditya Birla Group?

This business is new area of business. There is no risk element in the business.

We debated a lot before we decided to do it this way. And the reason is that this is a very different consumer segment. Obviously the medium is different—it is online as opposed to all that is being offered offline.

There is no connect or overlap between abof or what we are doing with other things. So that is why we decided to keep it closely held.

How much are the investments in this? What would the profits be?

We are not wanting to talk about the extent of investment that has gone into this so far. There is enough firepower that this initiative will have to make a success of it.

One can make estimates for aluminium but here is a business where it is very difficult to give an estimate. Obviously the idea is (that) in the foreseeable future it begins to give profits.

Will there be more e-commerce initiatives? 

We are looking at other spaces but this is something that requires a lot of time and study. It is not possible that we will make any other play in the e-commerce space .

There are no targets. We have some internal estimation but nothing that we can share. This is not a business in which one can give specific targets.

It is like a step into the unknown world. So there is nothing really that we can share with you.

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