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Feb 11, 2019
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Pernia's Pop-Up Shop thinks big with global expansion and triple revenue target

Feb 11, 2019

Indian multibrand fashion retailer Pernia's Pop-Up Shop is on track for a global expansion in 2019, its CEO Abishek Agarwal revealed to FashionNetwork.com. Here, the executive, also head of Purple Style Labs, explains the brand's omnichannel plans and how it hopes to triple its revenue.

Abhishek Agarwal, founder and CEO of PSL, now heading PPUS’s international expansion

Pernia’s Pop-Up Shop, first launched in 2012 by Pernia Qureshi, was acquired by Purple Style Labs in July 2018. Since then, both businesses have been headed by PSL’s founder, Abhishek Agarwal. The executive aims to near triple business during this calendar year to reach $30 million in 2019, up from its current annual turnover of around $12 million, fuelled in part by an upcoming global expansion.

In an exclusive interview with FashionNetwork.com, Purple Style Labs’ founder and CEO Abhishek Agarwal discusses how he is expanding Pernia’s Pop-Up Shop into an international, omni-channel business.

FashionNetwork.com: How did PPUS select PSL for the joint venture? What brought the two businesses together?
Abhishek Agarwal:
I started PSL in 2015 and for the first two to two and a half years of the company we used to work with designers on back-end, helping them connect to more retailers. Then we realised that there are not enough online and offline retailers who are growing at a pace, even if there are thousands of designers and brands in India, there are not enough people taking these brands to the consumer. We negotiated with PPUS to task the business to us and more than a joint venture it was an acquisition … We acquired PPUS and it solved our B2C problem in one shot. We got a company which has 75 percent international distribution online and a [domestic] offline business … and the online to offline route is much easier than the other way around.

FNW: Why and when did Pernia’s Pop-Up Shop decide to branch out into offline retail?
To give a small background on the company, we (PSL) had bought out PPUS earlier last year … in February 2018. When we were acquiring PPUS, one of the major agenda points was that it had already built a name online and to ensure that we reap the benefits of the worldwide marketing that it has, we want to start with the domestic market because with premium luxury a lot of people are comfortable coming to the store, trying the products and then buying. Domestic customers used to browse on the website a lot but they were never buying the high-price items. Our international sales contributed 75 percent of our GMV. To cover that lost market, we decided to venture offline by starting stores in Mumbai and Delhi. Currently we have five stores in Mumbai and two in Delhi.

FNW: What is the current ratio of sales between offline and online retail and what kind of ratio do you hope to see in the future?
Honestly, online and offline are sometimes difficult to split because let’s say you are a customer based out of Mumbai and you contact somebody on our WhatsApp business, then we would advise that you come into the store so that we can give you better service. Even when you come to the store… we show you a lot of [online] products that are not at the store. Because this is a so-called online to offline model, if I have to give you a number in terms of what is the split, currently it’s 50/50 but as we expand we might be doing more conversions offline but we might be acquiring more customers online, so it might be 60 /40 offline/online with time.

FNW: How have the retail events the business has been putting on, fashion shows and pop-up shops, boosted online sales?
We have grown the total business four times in the last 12 months and we have doubled online sales. We have created an offline presence for the same amount. 

FNW: Are there any other types of events that you are looking to branch out into?
Yes, we started with doing exhibitions and our fashion show, we do our own magazine, so I think not really any different types of events but as we expand into different geographies, probably we can change the flavour of the event depending on what will excite the customers there.

FNW: Are you planning to hold more fashion events in the future, on top of the fashion show planned for February?
This year one of the biggest expansions planned is international stores so we are starting with London hopefully in April 2019 and then we go to the US, Canada, Dubai, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Those are the six countries where we want to open stores and the events will go hand in hand. Let’s say we open a London store in April, probably we will do an event in May or in June.

FNW: Moving past 2019, do you see the business continuing to open at other international locations?
No, I think we want to open first in these six locations where we already have a business, make them profitable over the next six months after opening the stores and then probably look at expanding into new geographies.

FNW: Do you have a site planned for the London store?
Yes we are looking to operate from close to Bond Street in the Mayfair area.

FNW: How did you choose the locations for international expansion?
For international it was pretty easy because 75 percent of business online comes from the international market so these are the countries where we already have a customer base … so the 2019 expansion has been based on pure data.

FNW: What kind of challenges do you think the business will face when you open stores internationally that you do not see in India?
The challenge is not so much around the market it is more an operational challenge. The tax there, the import duties, everything is different. But I am pretty much confident of the market out there.

FNW: Are there any particular brands that are performing especially well on the platform online or offline and what do you think that is?
We are slightly focusing more on brands like [House of] Masaba, ideally $300 is a very sweet price point globally to pick off the shelf or online. Even though we sell a lot of products that are $1,000 to $1,500… we want to market the $300 price point more. At the fashion show that we are doing in Mumbai in February, we are launching five designers’ exclusive collections with PPUS which will be sold only on our platform and the price point for that will be $300… they include Samant Chauhan, Deme by Gabriella, and Rina Dhaka.

FNW: Do you have any thoughts on how the e-commerce market has changed in India over the last few years?
In India in the last 10 years the first challenge was to make people buy online but that hurdle is pretty much gone. There are enough number of shops online. I think what now needs to change is basically people buying more expensive stuff online. As I said, in India people are still not buying the high ticket price item online so I think that trust has still to be developed.


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