IN­NO­VA­TION LA­COSTE MOVES TO­WARDS UBER PREMIUMISATION

Images Retail - - CONTENTS - – By Charu Lamba

La­coste has launched a new store con­cept where the brand is us­ing in-store fur­ni­ture which is more pre­mium in look and feel.

Ex­pan­sion Plans

La­coste – which cur­rently has 50 POS in­clud­ing a web­site and is present in 18 cities in In­dia – is how­ever, in no hurry to ex­pand its pres­ence in the coun­try.

On an av­er­age, La­coste opens seven to eight new stores every year. The brand had paused its ex­pan­sion for one year in 2015-2016 due to un­cer­tainty in the econ­omy at that time and no new pre­mium re­tail de­vel­op­ments were com­ing, but now with pre­mium re­tail de­vel­op­ments com­ing up, and the re­tail econ­omy more sta­ble, La­coste has de­cided to start slowly and steadily work­ing on its ex­pan­sion plans.

Talk­ing about th­ese plans in de­tail, Jain said, “We are into ac­ces­si­ble lux­ury mar­ket where ex­pan­sion can­not be too fast like in the case of a fast fash­ion brand or a mass brand or even a pre­mium brand. Our lux­ury brand has to main­tain its own niche, its own pres­ence. This is the rea­son we also fol­low ‘se­lec­tive dis­tri­bu­tion net­work’ through­out the world, which means that every new door that we open is eval­u­ated very care­fully. We also put a lot of thought into our lo­ca­tion strat­egy.”

He fur­ther added, “We see the pre­mium en­vi­ron­ment and only af­ter that do we de­cide to open a new store. In In­dia, pre­mium re­tail de­vel­op­ments are lim­ited. We launch stores only in pre­mium re­tail de­vel­op­ments that sync with our brand DNA. This is one rea­son we do not ex­pand too fast.”

With such a strat­egy, the brand nat­u­rally gets most of its cus­tomers from Tier I cities. On the other hand, the on­line busi­ness, for La­coste is boom­ing in Tier II cities who don’t have ac­cess to the prod­ucts off­line. De­spite this, La­coste has no plans to open brick-and-mortar stores in

Tier II and be­yond, un­less pre­mium re­tail de­vel­op­ments with like-minded brands are present there.

“As far as Tier II cities are con­cerned, we plan to ex­plore them through our on­line chan­nel in­stead of phys­i­cally go­ing there. Again the rea­son is pre­mium re­tail de­vel­op­ment which is cur­rently not present in Tier II cities in an off­line model. We reach them through our web­site and it’s ef­fec­tive be­cause we get a lot of on­line con­sumers,” said

Jain.

Is Fran­chise The Way Ahead?

Till two years ago, La­coste was ex­pand­ing mostly through com­pany owned doors. At that time, the brand had just two to three fran­chisee stores. Later, La­coste re­vamped its strat­egy and de­cided to go in for com­pany-owned as well as fran­chisee stores. As of to­day, most La­coste out­lets are com­pany-owned but fran­chise stores have started con­tribut­ing to a de­cent per­cent­age of sales.

Ac­cord­ing to Jain, “The rea­son be­hind shift­ing to com­pany-owned plus fran­chise stores is to lever­age the brand. Two or three years ago, we were shy­ing away from go­ing to far away cities. We then re­alised that we have the right kind of TG and look­ing at the new re­tail de­vel­op­ments com­ing in, we de­cided to start look­ing for like-minded fran­chise part­ners.”

Om­nichan­nel Strat­egy

Om­nichan­nel for La­coste is still in the ini­tial stages as far as In­dia op­er­a­tions go, but the brand re­al­izes its im­por­tance in pro­vid­ing a seam­less ex­pe­ri­ence to cus­tomers.

“There are a few cus­tomers who do not find the prod­uct in the store, so, to ad­dress the con­cerns of th­ese cus­tomers, we would like to go in for Om­nichan­nel re­tail­ing. We are cur­rently eval­u­at­ing which part­ners to choose, which kind of Om­nichan­nel ex­pe­ri­ence to pro­vide, whether we should have a seam­less in­te­gra­tion of our in­ven­tory on on­line v/s off­line or whether it should only have the off­line cur­rently,” con­cluded Jain.

La­coste has launched a new store con­cept where the brand is us­ing in-store fur­ni­ture which is more pre­mium in look and feel. The brand will be ex­per­i­ment­ing with new types of prod­ucts, which are more pre­mium than what they are sell­ing now. In an in­ter­view with IM­AGES Re­tail, Ra­jesh Jain, MD & CEO, Sports and Leisure Ap­parel Ltd. (La­coste Li­censee in In­dia), said, “The look of the store is more pre­mium and as far as the pric­ing is con­cerned, we are go­ing to in­crease the pric­ing de­pend­ing on the over­heads and other con­di­tions.”

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