Suleman Pervez Ahmed, Lahore’s youngest and finest entrepreneur found himself caught in the newsflash as Brands Asia acknowledged him as the Entrepreneur of the Year, 2014 and Origins as Brand of the Year. He spent his last four years making his idea of a fashion retail brand grow into a prospering investment.
Mr. Ahmed can be defined as a risk taker who has financial as well as operational expertise. His educational background includes graduation from Royal Holloway College and a diploma in Entrepreneurship from London School of Economics. With an accurate assessment of fashion market in Pakistan, he carved his way into the industry as he launched Origins in 2010 The brand further gained international recognition and acceptance as Origins found its way into the Middle East.
With his vision turning into a success, the Origins stores flashed new refreshing, exotic prêt and printed lawn in each collection. For those having constraints imposed by budget, Origins can be the place as they target every market, having clothes in almost every range and something for everyone. Starting from the major cities important for the fashion world, the stores grew in number. It now has more than 36 stores operational in Pakistan with 10 more opening soon. Origins is now one of the trend setters of the garment industry and one of the fastest growing fashion retail networks in the country.
Below are the excerpts of his interview with Economic Affairs.
EA. From where did you get the idea for this business?
Having worked in the R and D department, I see the textile business a lucrative one, a business that offers good returns. I also saw a huge gap in the market for clothes that were inspired by the spirit of the modern woman and at the same time embraced the essence of our heritage that is defined by years of impeccable threadmanship. I decided to take advantage of this gap and produce the kind of product no other brand offered.
EA. What is the total potential market size of your product today? What is its growth rate?
The potential market size is around 30-35 billion and the growth rate is 16%.
EA. Why do you think people buy your product?
Our product stands out from others. Our clothes are unique and stunning with their intricate embroidery, motifs, wide range of colors, discrete micro-pleating and fine stitching making every woman wearing them feel confident and beautiful.
EA. What are the challenges have you seen in the clothing sector? How do you think can the industry rectify it?
Power and gas shortages have created many problems for the textile industry. Our printing and dyeing has suffered and we’ve had to pre-plan everything accordingly in order to get the work done on time. We have tried to overcome these hurdles in the best possible manner but it is a challenge as we are trying to produce the best quality product at the lowest possible price and the power and gas shortages do come in the way of that.
EA. From your point of view, what percentage of tax should be deducted from your annual business?
On a serious note though, I strongly support income tax as it is very important for the regulation of our economy and I follow whatever standard is set by the government.
EA. What difference do you see between the designer brands and non-designer brands in the country?
Non designer brands lack something that designer brands possess; vision. We have a vision and we let it guide our work ensuring that every piece is exclusively designed for the customers and stitched with exclusive certainty and quality. The lack of vision is why designer clothes will always surpass non-designer clothes in quality and design. Furthermore, designer brands are able to appeal to rapidly changing trends in the fashion industry in a way non-designer brands can’t.
EA. As an entrepreneur, how do you think our economy can get stronger?
I strongly believe that the first thing which needs to done for our economy is overcoming power and gas shortages and reducing load shedding. Industrial efficiency is acutely suffering because of load shedding and I think our economy would receive a great boost if the government works towards solving this problem. Also, I think that the economy can greatly advantage from some benefits for exports oriented businesses so our economy can compete with that of India and Bangladesh.
EA. Tell us about your responsibilities as a business owner?
My responsibilities as a business owner include making sure that the quality of my product is never compromised while trying to produce at a lower cost offering the lowest possible price. I’m responsible for creating employment and making sure the needs of all my employees are being met and they are satisfied with their work environment. Furthermore, my responsibility lies in satisfying my customers, making sure that they are happy with the product my company offers, adapting fast to any change in customer preferences and working on any complaints they may have.
EA. What are your future plans and vision for Origins?
Origins already has a large and growing market in Pakistan but my aim is to further expand in to other countries like India and Bangladesh as well as the Middle east. I want Origins to be a well-known and trusted brand not only within but also outside Pakistan.
Tausif-ur-Rehman is a team member of Economic Affairs. Email: Tausif@economicaffairs.info