Abhay Gupta, CEO at Luxury Connect LLP
Great Companies: How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
Abhay Gupta: Having spent two plus decades in the formative years of India’s fashion & luxury retail, I was aware of the challenges, shortcomings and limitations of these businesses from every angle. As a fresh entrant or wanting to enter the Indian market kind of brand, one could find strategy easily, but the same implementable? Did it take into account ground realities? Did it make a perfect match between the global brands vision and local expectations from the brand? Will the strategy advisor help the brand along the entire value chain of launch or just stop short of strategy? These and similar questions were then being faced by any new entrant into Indian retail scenario. Hence the idea of creating a 360 degree solution germinated in my mind. Having faced most of these challenges myself as a business leader bringing in global luxury brands, I saw the potential pain points of other fellow entrepreneurs and ventured to create a holistic service based organisation in end 2011.
Great Companies: What are the various Services provided by Luxury Connect LLP
Abhay Gupta: As I said above, we focused on the challenges as opportunities. Luxury connect was perceived to service the entire value chain of requirements: Strategy – compliance and talent. Today we offer services ranging from any kind of business advisory and strategic management services to brands ranging from entry strategy, partner search, retail location planning, branding and marketing; supply chain management, compliance management and last but not the least training, sourcing and recruitment of the correct and most suited talent for the brand.
Great Companies: What makes Luxury Connect LLP different from hundreds of other Training and Consulting firms?
We are proudly positioned as India’s first and only Luxury Business School. Through a unique and extensive survey titled ‘Status on India’s luxury talent’, we understood the shortcomings of the existing talent, expectations of from the future talent and lack of professional expertise as voiced by a luxury brands India partner and or the principal owner based overseas.
A deep dive into the existing talent and staff at luxury brands also made us realise their own thoughts on the shortcomings they believed they faced and was preventing them in career progression. Basis these findings, we developed a three phased approach and engaged the best global B school for luxury management to help build the structure, content and pedagogy. Not wanting to cut corners, we also invited Italian professors to come and deliver lectures and also train our teachers. SDA Bocconi, the then leader of luxury brand management was the chosen expensive but best knowledge provider. The journey since then has been difficult and tough but surely satisfying and very rewarding.
Great Companies: What are the struggles and challenges you face?
Abhay Gupta: Like any other start up, we too faced several challenges. Despite having been from the luxury trade, the concept and I as an individual needed to re-prove myself. Earlier one is known because of the brand he represents and the respect one daws is because of his position and brand. Once on your own, you need to prove your capability once again. We had a series of challenges in every vertical offering of our venture. For LCBS, it’s three phases had three different set of target groups. The most challenging one was the full time student community. This because of several reasons – a new offering, a new educational category, a new industry and a new school. For a parent who is risk averse by basic nature, all these are taboo and one does not want to venture into a risky proposition for their wards futures. With patience, commitment, no compromise and a long term vision, we built the brand first. Business followed.
Great Companies: How do you plan to grow in the future? What does 5 years down the line look like for Luxury Connect LLP?
Abhay Gupta: We have been constantly innovating, expanding, adding new offerings to remain relevant to the trade. Our students are well sought for and get placed even while still in the final semester. We brought in a hybrid offering last year during the pandemic and expanded our reach to smaller towns using technology as a base. Students from as far away places like Kota, Hubli, Goa, Kashmir, Vijaywada, Telengana, Azamgarh, Cochin etc have enrolled for on line or on campus options. We plan to take this forward by opening up digital campuses all over the country and hep students make a career in luxury. Expression of interests received are being carefully evaluated for a good fitment into our vision.
We will also expand by offering sectoral specialisations in real estate, beauty & skincare, health & fitness, travel retail, automobiles and digital retail. Done in a gradual manner, the potential of such offerings is tremendous at all levels of skill sets.
Great Companies: If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Abhay Gupta: Passion over profit has to be the key mantra. If you establish a track of commitment, results and mini success mile stones, business & profits will follow. Entrepreneurship is like driving in the fog. Even if you know the destination, the path gets hazy. The idea is to drive every few meters with clarity and drive on till you reach your end destination.
Abhay Gupta : www.abhaygupta.in