Ms Simone Naval Tata, the Cosmetic Czarina of India, stepped down as Chairperson of Trent, a retail major from Tata stable, on 30th October, 2006. Ms Tata was instrumental in establishing, consolidating and expanding Trent through its formative years. Trent, a pioneer in the modern retail industry of the country, was established in 1998, after acquiring Littlewood’s retailing business in India.
Today, Trent with more than Rs. 350 crore in annual turnover occupies a dominant position in the Indian retail space. It owns a chain of highly successful 24 upmarket fladship ‘Westside’ apparel and general merchandise stores. It is also present in Books & Entertainment retail business through its recently acquired chain of ‘Landmark’ stores. Besides, it has set up a successful hypermarket in Ahmedabad under the brand name of ‘Star Bazaar.’
Very few people may be aware that Trent, like Lakme, has an interesting background to evolution of its name. TATA biggies not being sure of entering the retail business were then not quite prepared to allow the use of TATA name in its corporate identity. Having failed to obtain the crucial nod of Bombay House, the Trent name was then carved out as a short form of Tata Retail Network. It is a different matter altogether that Tata Sons, the top decision making entity of the Tata group, has recently decided to entered retail business in a big way through Infinity Retail in association with Woolworths of Australia to retail consumer durables under the name of ‘Croma.’
Ms Simone Tata, under her leadership, had earlier changed Lakme- a small unknown cosmetics outfit into one of the leading cosmetic companies of of the country. Lakme, now under Hindustan Liver ownership, is credited with changing the face of Indian fashion and cosmetics forever.
Ms. Simone Tata, in an interview given in the early days of Trent’s evolution had counted the following as major challenges faced by the company:
- developing sources of supply
- securing the right real estate to anchor the stores, and
- training the available people to put together a meaningful management
How prophetic? Even today, the entire retail industry reels under similar challenges.
“At Trent, we have continued to maintain our growth across various formats. The company’s profitability has been driven by strong demand, backed by quality products and the latest fashion in stores,” said Simon Tata while stepping down as chair person of the company.