Naveen and Ketan Pishe, both third generation entrepreneurs at PN Rao – one of the oldest and largest family-led corporations in the suiting industry – were determined to professionalize the business and give it a structure by putting systems in place. But, before doing anything, they decided to hone themselves with industry skills through education and work experience and then join their family business. The cousins went back in time to reveal that they used to visit the stores as kids and how they decided to spearhead the firm as new-age entrepreneurs.
Ketan introduced the concept of 3D-body scanning back in 2002 – wherein you don’t have to physically get measured. Ketan and Naveen, along with their other family partners, decided to expand their retail footprints aggressively. In order to professionalize the section, they beefed up the hiring process and handed over the key responsibilities to new people, which were earlier exclusively held by family members.
Since its founding in 1923, three generations of PN Rao have steered the company through many fashion trends and custom wears. Sharing his side of the story, Naveen recalled how he decided to clear out some product categories like blankets, women lingerie and others to give the brand a niche product identity. “The first thing I wanted to do was to get the product mix right,” Naveen said.
When Indians where smitten by the IT wave in the early 90s, Naveen and Ketan realized that there were consumers who were looking to suit up when they travelled abroad and decided to cater to this category. “The competition from international players and the growing IT consumer base convinced us to convert ourselves to a suit centric brand,” Naveen said. Naveen and Ketan also decided to lower the time of tailoring a suit from 30 days down to two weeks and invested in software for data collection and management. Speaking about the younger generation, Chandramohan Pishe and Machender Pishe believe change is bound to take place when a new generation takes over an existing business.
(This article was first published in the June issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)