(RTTNews) - Indian shares opened on a positive note Friday, though the upside remained limited ahead of RBI's monetary policy decision.
The central bank is widely expected to keep interest rates steady in the face of rising inflation and shrinking gross domestic product (GDP).
The benchmark S&P BSE Sensex was up 233 points, or half a percent, at 44,866 in early trade, while the broader NSE index rose 73 points, or 0.6 percent, to 13,207.
InterGlobe Aviation surged 4.4 percent amid reports that IndiGo will call all employees back to work and removing leave without pay across all departments.
SpiceJet jumped as much as 12 percent on hopes of a further relaxations of restrictions in the sector.
Reliance Industries dropped half a percent as the Mumbai bench of the National Company Law Tribunal approved Reliance Jio's resolution plan for Reliance Infratel. Tata Power Company soared 5.6 percent after it emerged as the winner in bids for two electricity distribution companies (discoms) in Odisha.
NCC climbed 6 percent on news it has bagged four new orders worth Rs. 3905 crore in November.
Athleta masks are bringing new customers to the brand.
AthletaAthleta reported an impressive 35% increase in sales in the third quarter of 2020, solidifying itself as Gap Inc's fastest-growing brand.
Athleta CEO Mary Beth Laughton told Business Insider that since it first introduced masks in March "to much acclaim," the category has helped acquire more than 2 million new customers.
Now the brand is devising ways to keep these new customers shopping, by doubling down on popular categories lke joggers and leggings — styles Laughton said she believes will transcend the pandemic.
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Though it's been an especially challenging year for Gap Inc., Athleta is proving to be a bright spot amid its pandemic woes.
Athleta reported a whopping 35% increase in sales, to $292 million, in the third quarter of 2020 - solidifying itself as its parent company's "fastest growing brand," Gap Inc. CEO Sonia Syngal said on a call with investors last week. Company-wide net sales at Gap Inc. were flat year-over-year.
While the athletic wear subsidiary has long been a source of growth for its parent company, posting several consecutive quarters of sales gains in recent years, revenue has soared to new levels thanks in large part to the rise in popularity of its masks during the coronavirus pandemic.
Athleta CEO Mary Beth Laughton told Business Insider that since it first introduced masks in March "to much acclaim," the category has helped acquire more than 2 million new customers, allowing the brand to devise new strategies to keep them buying products.
"Masks have been a great way for many new customers to be introduced to Athleta and a strong customer acquisition tool," Laughton wrote in an email to Business Insider. "We expect demand to remain high in Q4 and our goal is to continue to drive our mask customers into some of our core loyalty products, such as our tights and leggings."
Read more: Gap canceled its orders for the next 2 seasons, and experts say it could be the start of a downward spiral for mall brands
According to Syngal, masks have been a significant driver of sales across the entire Gap Inc. portfolio. In addition to Athleta, face coverings have been especially popular at Old Navy and Gap, with the latter reporting in August that it sold $130 million worth of masks in the second quarter.
"Customers continue to come to our brands from masks," Syngal said during the call with investors last week. "We've updated styles and introduced innovation across the category now representing 4% of sales across the company. It is our goal to turn every customer into a loyalist."
For Athleta, the mask strategy is paying off. In September, it reached its highest same-store sales in the history of the brand, and is now forecasted by Gap Inc. to hit $2 billion in sales by 2023. Athleta also opened eight new stores in the third quarter, as it continues to expand its national footprint.
Laughton said that like its sister companies, Athleta benefited from having the resources and infrastructure at hand to quickly pivot to masks early on during the pandemic. The foray into protective gear has allowed the company to experiment with higher priced masks designed for working out, such as its recently launched "Activate Mask" made with a technical, lightweight fabric.
Gap's 3-pack adult unisex face masks.
'The casualization of attire will continue'
As Athleta works to retain new consumers and maintain momentum once the pandemic ceases, Laughton said it's doubling down on some of its most popular categories that can be used beyond strictly remote working or working out to keep customers around.
"We will continue to focus on our core products like tights, joggers, and tops which we believe our customer will continue to desire post-pandemic as she needs versatile, stylish products for her active lifestyle," Laughton wrote in an email. "We anticipate some other categories like swim and dresses to also see traction as the pandemic subsides."
Further, while Athleta has also benefited from the rise in demand for comfort clothing as large swaths of the nation transitioned to working from home, Laughton said she expects the casualization of American style to continue after the pandemic.
"We play in a highly relevant category of women's active and lifestyle products, so we've been advantaged in a space that has accelerated in the COVID environment," she wrote."The pandemic reminded us all that trusted brands matter more than ever. Overall, we believe that the trend towards the casualization of attire will continue."
She added that the pandemic has placed an increased emphasis on the importance of health and wellness that she believes will continue to help propel Athleta sales in the future.
"Since COVID, we've seen consumers engaging with fitness and wellness brands more than ever before in order to adopt healthy lifestyles and foster community from home," Laughton said.
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