William Bissell The Managing Director of FabIndia a second generation entrepreneur, who has a degree in philosophy, political science and governance from Wesleyan University in the U.S. In 1993, while holidaying in Australia, William Bissell once ran into an experienced surfer who shared an invaluable lesson with the 27-year-old. Today, Fabindia is considered one of the most profitable retailers in the country. It earns a net margin of 8%, nearly three times more than the industry average, evoking the envy of every rival.
Leadership Fabindia has almost singlehandedly built a network of a rapidly vanishing breed of handloom weavers and artisans. Indias 35 top towns through its network of 144 stores. Fabindias elaborate--and almost dedicated--supply chain organization is now in place.
Cont. He co-opted 22,000 artisans made them into shareholders that became the subject of a Harvard Business School case study in 2007 and made Bissell a poster boy of inclusive capitalism. "It seems contradictory that we pursue both a social goal and a profit, but I believe that is the only way to do it," says Bissell in that case study. "He sat with the artisans and explained how inherently valuable their craft was and how it could be capitalized. He convinced them that they should also have a share in this value by investing in it. - Sumita Ghosh (Rangsutra)
Criticisms World Bank president James Wolfensohns private investment fund picked up a 8% stake in the company for Rs. 50 crore. William has often been criticized about opening Fabindia stores in malls, as opposed to stand-alone heritage properties which lent a unique character to the brand. Hes also criticized for bringing in powerloom fabrics, where John was fanatical about handlooms, of replacing cotton thread for stitching with polyester thread, of combining plastic shower curtains with ethnic home furnishings, but most of all for growing Fabindia too fast. Williams mantra seems to be „giving the customer what they want„ in the most efficient, accessible and eco-friendly way
Future Which is why he is working on a new vision plan, one that will grow the companys outlets to three times the number it currently has over the next four years. After saturating much of the demand in the bigger cities (Fabindia has 13 stores in Bangalore and 22 in NCR) he now wants to unlock demand in smaller towns like Vellore, Karnal and Rishikesh. By 2015, he wants to put 300 stores in these tier two towns. There are also plans to open 10-12 large format stores to showcase Fabindias home furniture range.
Cont. To fund this growth, Bissell needs capital. In the last few weeks, he has been holding daily meetings with venture capital and private equity firms to dilute about 25% of its equity and at least a dozen firms--from Carlyle, Sequoia, Everstone to PremjiInvest--are said to be queuing up at his door. The valuations are said to be steep. Sources say Bissell expects to dilute at about six times current revenue. Part of the money will go towards buying out Wolfensohns share, some of it will go for ESOPs (employee stock ownership plan) and the rest will be for growing the business.
Awards and recognition Fabindia was awarded “Best Retail Brand” in 2004 by The Economic Times. In 2004, Fabindia was featured as part of a CNBC special TV report on India. Fabindia brand does not advertise, and largely works through word of mouth publicity. In 2007 the craft-conscious enterprise concept of Fabindia became a Harvard Business School (HBS) case study. 2010 marked 50 years of the foundation of Fabindia, and release of the book, The Fabric of Our Lives: The Story of Fabindia, by Radhika Singh
Philanthropy William and John Bissell established "The Fabindia School" in 1992 in Bali, in Pali district of Rajasthan. "The John Bissell Scholars Fund", established in 2000
Fabindia Products The textile-based product range The Home Products Fabindia Organic Fabindias range of authentic Personal care products
William Bissell‟ bookIn this book, the Author takes onall the problems that plague India,and describes solutions that areMathematically Sound,Scientifically Possible, andIdeologically Inspired.The ideas offered in Making IndiaWork are new, different andrefreshing, and are a must-readfor individuals interested inalternate governance, or anyonewho yearns to see a beautiful,competitive and just India
William Bissell The Man: The MD of Fabindia transformed the export- focussed textile company that his expat father founded into a big domestic brand, and changed the way the upwardly mobile Indian male dressed during functions and festivals. Fabindia has now hit the accelerator with private equity funding. He says we need to examine our assumptions of how narrowly we want to define performance. The Oeuvre: Started artisans co-operative in Rajasthan in 1988. His book, Making India Work, is a collection of his ideas that can solve some of India‟s pressing problems.
Cont. X-Factor: Imaginative, idealism combined with business acumen and tough negotiating skills. The Message: We need to examine more closely the environment that encourages widespread corporate fraud, and look at more encompassing ways of assessing the worth of a company and its leadership. "In popular myth, John Bissell was an idealistic visionary and his son William his antithesis: Discarding Fabindias core principles en route to exponential growth. The truth is (as his book Making India Work makes abundantly clear) William, though differently, is as much a visionary as his father; while idealist John was also an intensely practical business man."