Diesel is looking for a CEO


Diesel CEO1Diesel, the Italian premium casual wear company famously known for its jeans, is looking to hire a new CEO. Well, Alessandro Bogliolo, the previous CEO, left the company to become the CEO at Tiffany & Co., the luxury jewellery and accessories retailer. So DIESEL is wasting no time. It is looking for a new CEO, and has come up with a playful advertisement through social media.

Yes, choosing a CEO is serious stuff. Instead of confining the search to the known sites, Renzo Rosso, president, OTB Group, has chosen to search through social media as well. “Our CEO has left, leaving an empty space in our hearts, but most importantly an empty chair,” he says.

Starting from October 5th, applicants will only have 4 days to showcase their Diesel CEO3indisputable ability to sit in a way that is absolutely different from others through a picture or a video to be uploaded on Diesel’s Facebook page:


Diesel enjoys challenging the ordinary and the conformity that is flooding social networks, because again this time it’s not the usual job application that you find on LinkedIn. The position is actually of a Chair Executive Officer (that’s what the position is called at Diesel). This time neither an MBA degree nor financial skills will serve the purpose, “first of all, you have to be good at sitting,” says Rosso, DIESEL’s founder.

The selected candidate will spend a week as the Chair Executive Officer at the DIESEL Headquarters, Italy. Occupying the most important chair in the company!

So go on, and apply.


Tribe goes retail

Tarang Arora 1

Tarang Arora is placing Tribe at super premium malls.

While most brands go from an off-line presence to the on-line platform, Tribe, the silver jewellery brand from the Jaipur based fine jewellery house, Amrapali, has decided to go the other way. After having an online presence for three years, Tarang Arora, CEO & creative director, Amrapali Jewels, is taking the Tribe brand off-line. The brand recently opened its first two retail outlets in Mumbai and New Delhi at the Palladium Mall and Select City Walk respectively. “It’s a brand which can be in a lot more places than Amrapali; it’s a brand which can be in malls, it can be at a small kiosk at the domestic airport, it can be at various places and at each city there could be multiple of these,” says Arora.

Arora is placing Tribe at super premium malls, because “there isn’t anyone who thinks that silver needs to be placed that high,” he says.  Priced in the range of Rs500 to Rs1,50,000, it is a perfect place for both, the aspirational shopper and a regular shopper to shop at.

Amrapali was started by Rajesh Ajmera and Rajiv Arora, Tarang’s father, in 1978. They started by making traditional silver jewelry which was being worn by various tribes in India. Over the past decade or so, though Amrapali has moved on to work with gold, the silver jewelry is still there. So the idea with Tribe was to start a silver based brand within the Amrapali brand, which is what Amrapali is known for.

Tribe1By refocusing on silver, the idea was to create two different brands. Both Amrapali and Tribe are different businesses, with different ideologies and catering to different markets. “We are trying to create an identity for two brands, instead of one. Both brands have the same DNA, but are different styles, looks and feels. They both have the same mother, but are siblings with their own identity,” explains Arora.

Though there is a big fuss about being online, a brand needs to be both, offline and online.  “There is a big fuss about being online, which I don’t agree to, and I think offline is a very important space as well,” he says. In fact, when Amrapali started Tribe, the online venture in 2014, Arora had reservations about its success. “We are selling jewelry, not clothes. It’s a personalised item and will we be able to succeed selling such a product online?” he says. However, the online push was more successful than the company had thought. Tribe is more of a growable business than the fine jewelry Amrapali; and in terms of creativity, it’s a lot more fun for the design team.

Arora thinks that offline is going to be more consistent than online, because, “online has its days of being extremely successful, and then again it goes slow sometimes, then it has different reasons why it works. However, offline stores have a lot more character. It definitely gives an identity to the brand,” he says. Besides, it’s very difficult to change an online client to an offline one, if the client and the shop are not in the same city. Definitely an offline client can become an online client. “I think it is eventually going to give more business to online,” he says. For online sales, India is a major market. Internationally, the USA is an important market. Countries like Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong are doing well.

While it would be ideal to open many more stores of Tribe and be in the Palladiums of every city, Arora would first like to expand within these two metro cities first. “If you think about it, Mumbai and Delhi are not one city, these are multiple cities. If you go to Andheri, Santa Cruz, or Inorbit Mall, there is so much going on. In Delhi, there is the Great Mall, then you have the Ambience Mall which is in three different locations, and they are much bigger than tier 2 cities. There is a lot more scope to expand within these cities,” he says.






Spoilt for choice

If you walk into a Nature’s Basket outlet in Mumbai, or even the Food Hall at Palladium, you will most likely find little tubs of Epigamia Greek yoghurt lining up the dairy section. It catches the eye. In trying to catch more eyes, Drums Food, the makers of Epigamia Greek yoghurt and Hokey Pokey ice cream, are increasing their reach and tweaking their flavours to suit Indian palettes. With people moving towards a healthier lifestyle, “The Snack Pack was conceptualized keeping in mind a legacy of oily and fried snacks in the face of shifting consumer patterns towards seeking healthier lifestyles,” says Rohan Mirchandani, CEO.

Drum Foods, was started by two childhood friends, Rohan Mirchandani and Milap Shah. Other friends were asked to join – Chef Ganesh K who was working in India and Uday Thakker from Los Angeles. The duo’s initial exposure to the food industry was Hokey Pokey ice cream, which was launched in 2008.

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“We are not in the dairy business. We are in consumer and branding,” says Mirchandani.

Later, in 2015 the company entered the retail market with its ice cream tubs available in nine flavours. With business growing, it was important for Mirchandani to be more hands on. Hence, he moved to India from New York, USA.

Ice cream has a seasonal market in India. Yet, if one goes by industry figures, the per capita consumption of ice cream in India is amongst the lowest compared to developed countries. Ice-cream, which was considered an indulgent category in the past, has now evolved to being perceived as a snacking option by consumers. This change in perception has come about due to increasing disposable incomes and greater discretionary spending. The change in the perception of consumers has allowed the category to grow in volume. Also, with investments made, cold chains are getting better and hence contributing to the category’s growth. In fact, ice-cream, as a category, has been growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 10-15 per cent. “If small players come with flavours appealing to the Indian taste buds, they will find a space of their own,” says Randhir Kumar, DGM marketing (dairy products), Mother Dairy.

A shift in consumer patterns towards healthier eating has now started taking place. Already having their dairy sources in place, as well as the infrastructure to support a cold chain supply product, Drums launched the Greek yoghurt in 2013, in four flavours.

Greek yogurt is strained more excessively than regular yogurt in order to create a thick and creamy texture that has high protein and low fat content. This process of straining the yogurt to create a thick consistency comes from Greece, hence the title Greek yogurt. In India, Greek yogurt is a very nascent market. Nestle is the big competitor for Greek yogurt in India. “Greek Yogurt was a totally alien concept to the Indian market, and educating them about the product itself was a great challenge. So far we’ve had an incredible response from the Indian market,” says Mirchandani.

Epigamia1Keeping in mind a legacy of oily and fried snacks in the face of shifting consumer patterns towards seeking healthier lifestyles, a Snack Pack, priced at Rs 50-60, was launched recently. The Snack Packs, which consist of 100g of yogurt, along with a mix-in pack of chunky granola is an ideal on-the-go snack. It’s available in three flavours, including jalapeño. The Indian palette is an interesting one. For years we have been having dahi. As a consumer palette, Indians are comfortable with savory. According to Mirchandani, the jalapeño is their version of the raita. A move that industry watchers feel the company is using to differentiate itself from other players.

Since the last four years, Hokey Pokey ice cream and Epigamia Yoghurt are available nationwide. Epigamia is available at about 4,000 distribution points across India, with the widest distribution in Delhi NCR, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chennai. The recently launched Epigamia Snack Pack should eventually be available in most of the retail outlets. And Hokey Pokey ice cream is available in 250-300 retail outlets across the same metros mentioned above.

Production of both, the ice cream and the Greek yoghurt is out-sourced from third party manufacturers in Maharashtra and in Karnataka. Soon a third facility in Jaipur will be added to cater to the northern regions. The way Mirchandani looks at the business is “We are not in the dairy business. We are in consumer and branding,” he says.

Dairy products are extremely temperature sensitive, especially ones that do not contain any preservatives. As a result, the focus is on optimizing its in-house cold chain supply, and ensuring retailers understand the importance of keeping its products at the optimum temperature.

For now the company is tight-lipped about their revenue numbers, but are happy to share that in six months, Epigamia sales are up 140 per cent. Funds are coming in. The company raised Rs44.5 crore in its Series-A funding round in July 2016 from Verlinvest, the Belgian marquee consumer investor, and DSG Consumer Partners, an early-stage venture capital fund. Drums is also backed by angel investors such as Shripad Nadkarni (founder, Fingerlix and ex-CMO, Coca Cola India), Fireside Ventures (led by former Helion Ventures co-founder, Kanwaljit Singh), Vish Narain (Partner, TPG Growth), Kunal Kapoor (Bollywood actor) among others. To date, the company has raised Rs65 crore. “The raised funds are being utilized for talent acquisition, enhancing our supply chain and increasing production capacity,” says Mirchandani.

There is a lot of buzz in the category for sure. Young boutique players such as The Butternut Co., White Cub, Bono, The Parfait Co., to name a few, are also taking up shelf space. In the face of the big players, it’s the value proposition of the new players which which help them stand out.


The unusual artist


There was an unusual art show at the Kamalnayan Bajaj Art Gallery recently. Not unusual from what was on display – art on canvas, but unusual because the artists were all inmates at various prisons in Maharashtra. The current show, the fifth edition of Art from Behind the Bars, had on display 63 canvases painted by inmates lodged at five different prisons in the state. A look at the colourful works you wouldn’t think they were the handiworks of inmates, holed up in dark cells.

The show, in its fifth edition, is the brain child of Kavita Shivdasani who runs a class called `Know your environment,’ in Mumbai for children between the ages of 4-14 years. Shivdasani started `Art from behind the bars’, her main community service project, in 2007, to promote the art works of convicts. This fifth edition of the prison art exhibition comprised 63 canvases by prison artists from four prisons, participating in the show. Money from sale of the artwork will be credited into the prison artist’s account, so on their release they have a cache to fall back on until they find suitable employment.

The project started on an off-chance. As part of the creative writing class, the 14-15 year olds were writing a story. Shivdasani then took them on a tour of the places in the story. Arthur Road jail in central Mumbai was on the route. After obtaining the necessary permissions, she took the kids in. During her conversation with the senior jailor, she mentioned her class and the various art workshops she has for children. The jailor suggested if she could help with some of the inmates who have some talent in poetry and art. Art was more her cup of tea.

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Shivdasani’s meeting with ex-convict Lalitha, who was then in the Byculla jail, another jail in Mumbai, gave her food for thought. She was surprised by what she saw. “These people were cut off from everything. From an art critic point of view, they (the works) were not good. But taking into account what there were going through, it wasn’t bad,” says Shivdasani.

Initially, she couldn’t think of how to use the works. After giving it some thought, she thought of making it a part of her community service portion in her class activity and see if it made a difference. The first exhibition in 2007 comprised 10 works. Being an under-trial and a convict carries a lot of stigma. Besides the one who is convicted, it also affects the rest of his / her families, in terms of job loss, etc. Hence, the money from the sale of the artwork at the exhibition is credited into the prison artists’ account to help them on their release. The children who attend her class are also help to raise funds.

In this particular exhibition, the fifth edition, Shivdasani and her team reached out to inmates who did not necessarily have art training, and had little or no experience of painting on paper or canvas. Three art workshops were conducted in the Byculla Jail, Yerwada Central Jail and Arthur Road Jail. Twenty inmates participated in each workshop. The medium used was crayons, sketch pens and acrylic paints on paper and canvas. The tools: their fingers, sponge bits and combs. “What evolved were artworks that ranged from rigid and typical depictions to free flowing movements of waves, whorls, peaks, loops and dots in eye-catching colour combinations,” says Shivdasani.

The opportunity with art that Shivdasani has brought to the convicts has made an impact on them. Sudeb Pal, an inmate at Nashik Central Jail has had a change in outlook ever since he started receiving painting equipment through Art from Behind the Bars. He began to paint regularly. Coming from a culturally-inclined family, art and creativity is in his blood. During his childhood he got to interact with a number of artists who, due to lack of opportunity and support, could barely make a living out of art. So once he is free, he wants to work with such talented people as these to guide, teach and support them. He hopes to give them opportunities just like he received from AfBB.

Catalyzing livelihoods

Most social organisations have their goals set regarding what they want to help society with. While there are many causes to address, Social Venture Partners (India) has picked jobs and income enhancement as its focus area. The reason is simple. “We see the jobs challenge as one of the more significant challenges faced by every country, especially India,” says Ravi Venkatesan, managing partner, Unitus Seed Fund and former chairman, Microsoft India. According to Venkatesan, after the boom years of 2005-10, job creation, particularly the big IT job engine, actually slowed down over the last few years. Now, its jobless growth.

The idea is to create jobs. So when SVP India recently hosted the Million Jobs Mission Conclave, it brought together 15 of India’s social organizations, and over 50 consortium partners to collaborate on creating 1 million jobs in the next five years. The Conclave showcased these 15 social organizations, who presented their model to create a cumulative of 100,000+ sustainable livelihoods each, in the next five years. Over 100 participants from SVP’s consortium partners – representing foundations, corporates, impact investors, global multilateral agencies, consulting organizations, Government, and academia – actively engaged with these organizations and made commitments of support – from access to funding, strategic inputs, leadership development, go-to-market connects and governance/Board support. According to Atul Satija, co-founder of The Nudge Foundation, “It would have taken me four months of travel to meet some of these consortium partners to support our goal. Today, I got them all in one room, engaging in serious conversation with us on how to go forward. What more could I have asked for!”

Madan Padaki, co-founder & trustee of Head Held High Foundation and co-convener of the Million Jobs Mission (MJM), is pleased with the outcome. “We never expected this level of participation. Just shows that the idea and concept was so powerful,” he says.

Says Sanjukyta Rajguru, MD & CEO, SBI Foundation, “The conclave exposed me to a panorama of work that these social organizations are doing – some I already knew of, and many I didn’t – and these will help me make more informed decisions. Now that I know, I can think of many ways funders like us can reach credible organizations and beneficiaries”

Initially, modest grants were a way of getting started. However, the organisation needed to punch at the right altitude. A mission statement was crafted – to help create 1 million jobs in the next five years. And create a movement with 1,000 engaged philanthropists across India in the same time frame.

Let’s step back a bit. Who is SVP? Well, SVP is a philanthropic organisation that was started in Seattle, USA, in 1998, by ex-Microsoft employees, Tim Sharpman and Paul Schumacker. It is the world’s largest network of engaged philanthropists, with over 3,500 investor-donors across 39 cites, in eight countries (U.S, Australia, Canada, China, India, Japan, Korea and United Kingdom).

In India, Social Venture Partners India was founded in May, 2012 in Bengaluru by Venkatesan. He asked like-minded people to get their toes wet, and start their philanthropic journey. So SVP began by copy-pasting what was done in the US to India. After the positive response that it got in Bengaluru (they have 90 partners), branches were started in Mumbai, Pune, Delhi and most recently, in Hyderabad. Today the SVP Bangalore chapter is chaired by Jogin Desai, CEO, EyeStem; the Pune chapter is chaired by Ganesh Natarajan, chairman, 5F World; the Mumbai chapter is chaired by Govind Iyer, MD, Egon Zehnder; the Delhi chapter by Rajeev Bakshi, MD, Metro Cash and Carry India, and the Hyderabad chapter by Ajit Rangnekar, former Dean of Indian School of Business.

Venture Philanthropy is very different from philanthropy that is practised more broadly, which is simply called `cheque book’ philanthropy – you write a cheque, you give money towards something you feel good about, or an organisation that is doing work that you identify with. SVP does more that. It picks organisations that are doing work that is scalable, and it engages with them in the same manner as venture capitalists engage with portfolio companies. They don’t just provide money, but far more importantly, they provide expertise and time and access to its networks, etc.

SVP India’s national focus is to make a dent in poverty through catalyzing livelihoods at the bottom of the pyramid. It focuses on organizations that work to promote livelihoods – be it through income augmentation, vocational skills training and placement, or micro-enterprise development. The key areas of investment are micro enterprises, skill training, health livelihoods, agri-livelihoods and waste management.

Though in the social space there is a lot of work happening in cylos, the MJM is a way to convene and bring all the like-minded organisations together to work collaboratively. For the last four years, SVP India has been quietly incubating what is becoming a movement bringing together successful people who care about what is happening in society, finding a way for them to get engaged. While till now what it has done has been largely below the radar, it is now important that it gets a lot more awareness and engagement.

The return of Bally


After a lull of two years, the iconic Italian luxury brand Bally, is making its way back to India. Teaming up with Reliance Brands Ltd., Bally will open its first store at DLF Emporio in New Delhi in March 2017. Under the terms of the agreement, the joint venture will have exclusive distribution and marketing rights for Bally in the country.

Bally had previously entered the Indian market with the New Delhi based Bird Group. However, the partnership was terminated in 2014.

The new store is part of the brand’s global expansión, which has seen the opening of two new concept flagship stores in Tokyo’s Ginza and Los Angeles’ Rodeo Drive earlier this year. In India, Bally and Reliance are looking at further expansion in Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai in the future.  Frederic de Narp, CEO of Bally is excited about this joint venture. “Joining forces with a partner of this calibre makes us very confident that we can be relevant and successful in the market. Indian consumers are very discerning and have an appreciation for quality and craftsmanship, the demands for which Bally is perfectly suited to meet,” he says.

Reliance Brands has a mandate to launch and build international and domestic brand equity in the premium to luxury segment across apparel, footwear and lifestyle business. Its current portfolio of brand partnerships comprises of, to mention a few, BCBGMAXAZRIA, Brooks Brothers, Diesel, Dune, Ermenegildo Zegna, Gas, Kenneth Cole, Muji, Paul & Shark, Reiss, Steve Madden.

Steeped in rich heritage, Bally is one of the first luxury shoemakers, internationally. From the onset, it brought together, form and function in shoe design, produced with excellence, boldness and creativity. 165 years later, the name Bally stands for authentic Swiss design and quality. The brand offers elegant and timeless designs across various categories including accessories, ready-to-wear and eyewear.

As with many other luxury brands, Bally too faced a slow-down in the early 2000s. In 2013, Frederic de Nap was brought in to turn around the iconic brand. De Nap has to his credit the successful turnaround of Harry Winston Inc., the famed American jeweller and watchmaker. In 2014, Pablo Coppola was appointed design director for all Bally collections – ready to wear, shoes, handbags and accessories, as well as overall brand image and communications. Since his arrival at Bally, Coppola has led the new design direction for the brand, in a period that heralds a new chapter for Bally.




All art and soul



A large canvas painted during the third art camp in 1998, representing the joint efforts of Manjit Bawa, Pritipal Ladi, Ranvinder Reddy, Surendran Nair, Nalini Malini, Dhruva Mistry, Paramjit Singh, Arpita Singh and Jayashree Chakravarty. 

Christie’s fourth consecutive India sale in Mumbai on December 18, promises to be an interesting one. Leading the auction is Bengaluru based Abhishek and Radhika Poddar’s collection of modern Indian art, painstakingly built over the past 30 years.

A total of 41 lots will be offered from this collection, including important works by Tyeb Mehta, Vasudeo S. Gaitonde, Ganesh Pyne, Meera Mukherjee, Bhupen Khakhar and several other modern Indian artists. According to Sonal Singh, Head of South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art, head of department, Christie’s, Mumbai, while outside of India there have been lager private collections offered for auction, for India, this is one of the most important collections from a living collector to come to auction.

As each work is either acquired directly from the artist or from leading gallerists, each lot comes with an immaculate provenance. At the heart of the collection are seven works by Manjit Bawa, whom Abhishek met way back in 1987. According to Singh, the auction estimate for any work of art is based on several factors, including recent prices achieved for similar works by the artist, the object’s rarity, and its overall condition. “Since most of these works have been acquired directly from the artists, they have not been exhibited, published or offered for sale before, increasing their rarity,” she says.

Its not easy deciding which works to put up on auction, especially since each work has a personal tale behind it. For Abhishek, it was tough deciding which works to put up for auction. The catalogue essay emphasises on the Poddars building one of India’s most comprehensive collections of modern and contemporary art, antiquities, folk and tribal art, and textiles. The collection also reflects their longstanding personal relationships with artists, gallerists and scholars, as well as their knowledge and connoisseurship which developed over the years. Their collecting has always been based on an innate respect for the arts, and a drive to learn about and document the country’s diverse cultural landscape. “When putting up your works in a public domain, the choice of works had to tie in with the essay,” says Abhishek. Now, the collection is growing indifferent directions.

The highest valued work from the collection is Tyeb Mehta’s Untitled Diagonal), 1975wabhishek3hich shows two human figures, from the artist’s diagonal series (Lot 111, estimate: INR10,00,00,000 – 15,00,00,000 / US$1.5 – 2.2 million). This was an important acquisition for the Poddars from the late Kekoo Gandhy’s Gallery Chemould in Mumbai. It was also at Chemould that the Poddars also acquired the Gaitonde in the sale, a 1973 abstract work (Lot 129 estimate: INR 9,00,00,000-12,00,00,000 / US$ 1.3-1.6 million).

Born and raised in a business family in Calcutta, Abhishek was familiarised with the basic notion of collecting and living with art at a young age. While studying at The Doon School, the legendary boarding school for boys in the Himalayan foothills of Dehradun, he established the school’s first art magazine. Akshat underlined Poddar’s early grasp of the various genres and geographies of the art world. After the magazine was launched, Abhishek made it a point to meet and thank all of the artists who contributed to the magazine, setting in motion several personal relationships, and further introductions that influenced the course of his collecting. Today, besides running the family business, Abhishek runs Tasveer, a gallery dedicated to photography. Radhika owns and manages the lifestyle store, Cinnamon.

The Poddar collection was formed in the 1980s and 1990s, before the market for modern


Bhupen Khakhar (1934 – 2003) `Interior of a temple’. Estimate INR 10,000,000 – 15,000,000 ($147,553 – 221,330) Pics source: http://www.christies.com

and contemporary art in India took off. According to Christie’s Singh, it represents the best works of a wide range of Indian artists, showcasing the ways in which their styles and idioms developed over time. Rare early works by Arpita Singh, Bhupen Khakhar, Meera Mukherjee and Ganesh Pyne help understand the evolution of these artist’s bodies of work. The collection is thus important for connoisseurs, collectors and art historians, offering a glimpse into a vital period of modern Indian art that is yet to be completely documented.

So if you can still make it for the Mumbai preview on December 16 – 17 at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, it would be worth it.