Lawa Prashad Mallyis the chairman of U.F.O Clothing Store, which has grown from a single outlet to a chain of stores, with presence in Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Pokhara, Butwal, Birganj, and Narayanghat. Mally talked to Nepali Times about the market and his future plans.
Nepali Times: UFO is one of the first established stores for ready-made garments in Nepal. How has the market changed since you began?
When we opened our first store in 1996 in Ranjana Galli, Kathmandu, there were very few fashion retailers. Today, competition has increased tremendously and other stores have replicated our open display system. The customers have also matured, they easily accept the concept of self service and fixed price and are well informed about the products and latest trends before they enter the stores.
So would you say Nepali consumers are brand conscious now?
Yes, I would say Nepali customers are increasingly brand conscious. Our tie-up with brands like Yishion, YCMD and 183SX has shown positive results.
How is your promotional strategy working out?
UFO takes special care in building its brand to become the first choice for its customers. Our slogan 'Express Your Attitude' speaks to our consumers who want to be unique and seek products that are an extension of themselves. Recently, we started using Nepali sports personalities as models, because they have large fan bases among young consumers.
Have there been any policy changes for clothing industry since you came into operation?
Majority of the products in Nepal's fashion/clothing industry consists of imported products. For the 15 years years that we have been in the clothing industry, policies have hardly been reviewed. Custom valuation and tariff need to be modified so that both the government and the industry can benefit. New policies which level the playing field for big and small enterprises and promote healthy competition also need to developed.
Have you thought of selling online?
We have been selling selected range of products and gift cards online through muncha.com for more than a year now. We also have a Facebook page where customers get updates about new arrivals and can post comments. Though our website itself is not equipped to accept orders right now, it is still able to provide customers information about the products in our stores. Nepal has not fully embraced e-commerce, but it is only a matter of time.