Interview by Melanie Gropler

A paradise and must visit destination for any denim lovers - Thai retailer Pronto Denim is ruled by individualism, authenticity, quality and craftsmanship. Launched in 2006, Pronto was one of the first multi-label stores located in the Siam Square, the heart of the Bangkok fashion district. Out of passion for denim, the management team had set out to build the store into a place where consumers can find labels from around the globe which were never available in Thailand before. The main focus has never been solely about product selection but also customer service. Every staff member is trained to give proper advice on appropriate fits for the different body types of customers as well as to offer complimentary alterations if needed. Today, Pronto is located in all of Bangkok’s biggest and most popular locations such as Siam Paragon, Central World, Central Airport Chiang Mai, Central Ladprao, Siam Square and more. All in all, 10 POS are operated by the company throughout Thailand. Here, Pronto Denim founder Chnanon Sachdev explains the concept and discusses today’s challenges of successful retailing.

Why did you open your store? Tells us the story and your motivation!
When we launched this store back almost a decade ago we felt the market was lacking the excitement and the hype was all about items that are popular because of their design and name and not always because of their quality/craftsmanship. We wanted to introduce the brands maybe unheard of locally and educate people about what they are paying for when they purchase a product from our stores. Something that tells a story all the way from the way it’s designed to the way it’s manufactured. This creates a more meaningful relationship with the garment that we wear.

 Pronto Denim
Pronto Denim

What is important for you in terms of shop fitting and store design?
Authenticity. We value the shopping experience and enjoy building stores. So far we operate 10 outlets in Thailand, all of which are designed differently and the space gives us the possibility to store part of the antiques and collectibles items we have been picking up from around the world that reflect the quality and workmanship that went in them. A quality not seen since the pre-mass manufacturing era.

What are the anchor Brands? Which brands have you recently added to the assortment?
All the brands we carry have their followers that we serve to a large variety of customers. From the brands that have been with us since the very beginning such as Imperial Brand Clothing(Australia), The FlatHead(Japan), Thorogood(USA) to brands that have joined us recently such as WareHouse(Japan), Novesta(Slovakia), Viberg(Canada).

What are five products you couldn’t live without right now?
Jeans, Jeans, Jeans, Jeans and more Jeans. The store was launched dedicated to Denim and Indigo. Our very first store had but one rail of jeans and we are everyday inspired by them.

 Pronto Denim
Pronto Denim

Which fairs do you visit? Or do you only order at showrooms? Where do you inform yourself about trends?
We visit from bigger shows such as Project, Liberty to smaller shows such as Capsule, CCShow, Inspiration, etc.

Did your store’s sales increase or decrease over last year? To what do you attribute your gain or loss in sales?
We have been fortunate to have always seen the growth year on year despite the slow economy/retail business in our region but we put in a lot of work for this. When there aren’t new products we develop them, when there isn’t excitement we create it.

 Pronto Denim
Pronto Denim

Do you also operate an online shop? If so, what percentage of your sales are from online business compared to your brick-and-mortar sales?
We operate a casual online store where we connect remote customers to our stores and facilitate the communication and buying without having to visit the actual store. It’s not a traditional online store because we have 1000s of SKUs. Our brick and mortar sales are higher because we push people to experience the store atmosphere by touching the products and trying them on first hand.

What makes your store different and in what ways does your store excel beyond your competition?
I would say 2 things, product information and brand variety. We have a dedicated communications team to photograph and write the story behind each item so that customers know exactly why each item is special. And we introduce previously unknown brands to the market and create a fan base for them - customers trust us to offer quality and they are rewarded with great small brands they never knew they would love.

How do you stay in touch with the wants and needs of your customers?
By very actively participating both on the store floor and on online forums. We personally communicate with customers to hear their feedback and their needs. We are also constantly on the sales floor assisting customers and talking to them face to face.

 Pronto Denim
Pronto Denim

Is there a kind of model store for you? Some shop (worldwide), who inspires you?
We admire a lot of stores we visit from used clothing stores to antique shops but mainly the flagship stores of the brands we work with such as The RealMcCoy Tokyo store, The FlatHead's Desert Hill market store and their Googies cafe, Freitag HeadQuarter in Zurich, MisterFreedom store in LA, etc.

What is the biggest challenge for retailing right now?
Unauthorised (parallel) distributors and piracy. Retailers selling below retail price, destroying brand value in the community.

Which is the most important ingredient for successful retailing?
Personal relationships and responsibilities. Providing services and eager to take responsibilities after sales as much as before sales.

Pronto Denim
318/23-26 Sukhumwit
22 Klongtoey
Bangkok 10110