Wood­land to open 60 more stores this year, says, Harki­rat Singh

Images Retail - - FRONT PAGE - – By Shubhra Saini

Wood­land has clocked ₹1200 crore in rev­enues and has been steadily grow­ing about 20-25 per­cent over the years, hop­ing to achieve con­sis­tent growth in up­com­ing years. – Harki­rat Singh, Manag­ing Di­rec­tor, Wood­land.

Harki­rat Singh the Manag­ing Di­rec­tor of Wood­land In­dia hails from a fam­ily of in­dus­tri­al­ists. He has earned a name for him­self in Wood­land with his com­pe­tency and cal­cu­la­tive meth­ods. A bach­e­lor of com­merce from Hindu Col­lege, Singh pur­sued Philol­ogy from Moscow Univer­sity, went to Har­vard Busi­ness School and Stan­ford Univer­sity to study De­sign In­no­va­tion.

It was dur­ing this time that his love for footwear de­sign ma­tured and he started learn­ing the in­tri­ca­cies of the high fash­ion shoe busi­ness. Af­ter com­plet­ing his ed­u­ca­tion, Singh joined the fam­ily busi­ness where he was in­volved in ex­ports to Europe and US. Harki­rat Singh was ap­pointed the Di­rec­tor of Wood­land in 1989, and since then he has made a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to­wards the lead­ing brand, which is famed as ‘the maker of tough shoes.’ He ven­tured into the un­or­gan­ised In­dian shoe mar­ket and in­tro­duced the ad­ven­ture footwear cat­e­gory.

Talking about the brand, he says, “The brand ‘Wood­land’ owned by Aero Group was started in Que­bec, Canada for mak­ing winter boots. Wood­land en­tered into In­dia in 1992 when the In­dian footwear mar­ket was largely un­or­gan­ised. We cre­ated a new cat­e­gory of spe­cialised ‘out­door ad­ven­ture sports’ shoes. Our prod­uct po­si­tion­ing was dif­fer­ent and we were known as a rugged, out­door leather shoe brand, the kind usu­ally pre­ferred by ad­ven­tur­ists. The youth took fancy to our shoes and we grad­u­ally de­vel­oped a prod­uct line es­pe­cially for In­dia. Since then we have never looked back. The suc­cess of our shoes en­cour­aged us to en­ter new seg­ments like clothes, hand­bags, and the likes.”

In an ex­clu­sive in­ter­ac­tion with Shubhra Saini, Singh talks about Wood­land and the footwear re­tail mar­ket, how it has evolved over the years and the role Wood­land has played in fur­ther in­ten­si­fy­ing the mar­ket.

Re­tail Foot­print:

Cur­rently we have a chain of over 600 com­pany-owned stores and a pres­ence in over 5,000 multi- re­tail out­lets in the coun­try. Glob­ally, the brand is present in more than 40 coun­tries.

Foot­falls vary through­out the year. As ours is an out­door brand, peo­ple pre­fer try­ing out prod­ucts be­fore buy­ing them so there is a good foot­fall across our stores in stand­alone lo­ca­tions as well as shop­ping malls. Talking about fran­chise stores, we don’t have many such stores but we are work­ing to fur­ther strengthen our fran­chise model to grow our pres­ence in smaller cities and towns. We pre­fer fran­chise stores in re­mote lo­ca­tions like Kash­mir and far off places in North­east In­dia.

Mar­ket Po­si­tion­ing & Cus­tomer Pro­file:

Wood­land prod­ucts are strong, meant for tough con­di­tions and have a dif­fer­ent style. The brand has a USP of be­ing long-last­ing and has been syn­ony­mous with ad­ven­ture sports and out­doors for years now.

Our cus­tomers in­clude ur­ban youth (both men and women) look­ing for ad­ven­ture, aged be­tween 17-25 years who are stu­dents, col­lege kids and pro­fes­sion­als.

Prod­uct Port­fo­lio:

Our wide prod­uct range in­cludes ap­par­els, shoes and ac­ces­sories for men and women and out­door equip­ment like tents, sleep­ing bags, wa­ter­proof out­door back­packs and all that one can

The brand ‘Wood­land’ owned by Aero Group started in Que­bec, Canada for mak­ing winter boots. Wood­land en­tered into In­dia in 1992 when the In­dian footwear mar­ket was largely un­or­gan­ised. They cre­ated a new cat­e­gory of spe­cialised ‘out­door ad­ven­ture sports’ shoes.

as­so­ciate with ad­ven­ture trav­els and sports. Most of our prod­ucts are man­u­fac­tured in coun­try plants.

Price Point:

Our prices are in sync with the buy­ing power of our target au­di­ence, which is es­sen­tially the non-earn­ing youth seg­ment that is look­ing for stylish and value for money of­fer­ings. Our jack­ets are avail­able at a start­ing price range of ₹4,000 whereas the price range of our boots starts from ₹5,000.

Men shoes and t-shirts are our high­est sell­ing items at the stores cur­rently. The most pop­u­lar price range with our cus­tomers starts from ₹4,000.

Lo­ca­tion Strat­egy:

We target malls and high street mar­kets of the tier I, II and III cities for Wood­land stores. We may set up shop in shops with ex­ist­ing re­tail­ers in overseas coun­tries, where re­tail is fairly or­ga­nized.

Cus­tomer Loy­alty:

We keep run­ning cus­tomer loy­alty pro­grams from timeto-time as they pro­vide our ex­ist­ing cus­tomers with ad­di­tional ben­e­fits and also help us reach a wider au­di­ence. Our en­deavor has al­ways been to cre­ate such pro­grams that mo­ti­vate ex­ist­ing and new cus­tomers and to gen­er­ate loy­alty and sat­is­fac­tion. Loy­alty pro­grams also help us to fur­ther main­tain con­ver­sa­tions with our clien­te­les. What we feel proud of is that the same cus­tomer comes to us re­peat­edly.

Ex­pan­sion Strat­egy:

We are plan­ning to add an­other 60 stores in this fi­nan­cial year that would be an equiv­a­lent com­bi­na­tion of small towns and met­ros. Wood­land as a brand has also been present in the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket for quite some time now. We are cur­rently work­ing on en­ter­ing more for­eign coun­tries in the near fu­ture to add to our kitty of in­ter­na­tional pres­ence.

Fu­ture Prospects:

We are plan­ning to set up 60 more stores this

year ma­jor­ity of which will be in tier I, II&III cities. We have re­cently ex­panded our busi­ness in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Aokang In­ter­na­tional to en­ter China. This part­ner­ship will al­low us to sell our prod­ucts in about 5,000 re­tail out­lets in China. We will ini­tially start sell­ing through 150 Aokang out­lets. Af­ter test­ing the mar­ket with 150 stores, we shall scale up stocks by Septem­ber and will be avail­able in Aokang stores across China. We are plan­ning sim­i­lar col­lab­o­ra­tions in some South African coun­tries and Canada.

Bet­ting big on E-com­merce:

Our on­line sales are grow­ing at a faster rate and we ex­pect it to grow to 40 per cent in three to four years. We plan to con­cen­trate more on a seam­less ap­proach through all avail­able shop­ping chan­nels, i.e. mo­bile in­ter­net de­vices, com­put­ers, brick­sand-mor­tar, tele­vi­sion, ra­dio, di­rect mail, cat­a­log, in-store ex­pe­ri­ence and so on. Our EMI scheme for on­line sales has proved ben­e­fi­cial for us. It is one of the prime rea­sons for the growth of our on­line sales. Soon af­ter is launch, it gen­er­ated a tremen­dous re­sponse from our cus­tomers. Nearly 15 per­cent of our sales are now through this scheme.

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