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William Bissell

Managing Director, Fabindia

He leads his family business of selling textiles and homewares produced by over 40,000 artisans and craftspeople from across India.

Biography

When Bissell followed in his father’s footsteps and took over Fabindia, he immediately refocused the group on India’s domestic market, rather than international exports. Over the next three decades, Bissell grew Fabindia, an unlisted Indian ethnic wear chain, from just two retail locations in Delhi to over 117 stores.

As well as dramatically expanding the company’s retail locations, Bissell added a non-textile range in 2000 and organic foods in 2004, personal care products in 2006 and handcrafted jewellery in 2008.

Following his graduation from Wesleyan University in the United States in 1988, Bissell spent several years in Jodhpur, India, working with local artisans and assisting in the formation of various weavers cooperatives. When Bissell took over Fabindia, he introduced an artisan shareholder system through "supply-region companies,” incorporated as subsidiaries, to address the imbalance between artisan pay and retail profits. The craftspeople collectively own 26 percent of the equity in each company, based in nationwide centres, with Artisans Micro Finance, a Fabindia arm holding 49 percent, and employees and other private investors holding the balance.

In 2007, Bissell sold 6 percent of Fabinda, for an estimated $11 million, to Wolfensohn Capital Partners. In 2009, the company acquired a 25 percent stake in UK based £30 million ethnic womenswear retailer East.

In 2012, L Capital, the private equity arm of LVMH, bought an 8 percent stake in Fabindia from Wolfensohn Capital Partners.

Bissel also turned his hand to ventures outside the fashion industry, investing $2 million in education software company Foradian Technologies in 2014 and before that participating in a second round of funding for big data start-up Crayon Data.

Career

Fabindia

Fabindia

Managing Director

1999 - Present

New Delhi, India

Vital Statistics

Nationality

India

Location
India
Member since
2013

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