Bu­gatti Shoes: Fits Like a Glove

Shoes & Accessories - - Contents -

It’s clear that Sirish Ku­mar, CEO In­dia and Global Sourc­ing Di­rec­tor is lead­ing As­tor­mueller Shoes Pri­vate Lim­ited into an ad­van­ta­geous fu­ture. Af­ter test­ing waters in the In­dian mar­ket in 2017, the footwear com­pany has suc­cess­fully es­tab­lished its re­tail pres­ence for Bu­gatti in 2018 with a stronger foot­print across In­dia.

With its ori­gin in Sch­welm, Ger­many, where Jo­han Müller first es­tab­lished the Jo­han Müller Work­shop for be­spoke shoes in 1928, As­tor­mueller’s her­itage in craft­ing fine footwear is of more than 80 years and is cur­rently spread across over 35 coun­tries.

In­dia’s group head has vig­or­ous ex­pe­ri­ence in the footwear busi­ness and has a keen sense of the de­vel­op­ment of the In­dian mar­ket. Sirish Ku­mar him­self main­tains that mak­ing As­tor­mueller’s In­dian arm suc­cess­ful was made pos­si­ble by build­ing on the com­pany’s strong his­tory in In­dia. Af­ter the 2017 in­tro­duc­tion, As­tor­mueller soon re­alised that for Bu­gatti to suc­ceed it would need to open its own stores. Al­ways in pur­suit of find­ing the per­fect bal­ance be­tween good qual­ity, good de­sign and great prices, the brand prides it­self on be­ing op­ti­mistic, clear, ac­ces­si­ble, re­li­able and typ­i­cally Ger­man, promis­ing straight-up ser­vice with a smile.

All prod­ucts are de­signed in Europe and are de­vel­oped in-house, with sus­tain­able prin­ci­ples in mind, which is why they’re found on most feet across Europe. In ad­di­tion to its bricks-and-mor­tar stores, Bu­gatti’s on­line pres­ence is also grow­ing, reach­ing a wide­spread con­sumer base. Re­spon­si­ble for the brand’s sourc­ing and re­tail in In­dia, Sirish be­lieves the ex­pan­sion of its dig­i­tal and so­cial plat­form is cru­cial to en­hanc­ing cus­tomer en­gage­ment and gain­ing deeper in­sight into cus­tomers’ chang­ing pref­er­ences. In a re­cent strate­gic de­vel­op­ment, the com­pany has tied up with Iconic Fash­ion, a Gurugram head­quar­tered com­pany which was founded in Jaipur. In a short span of five years Iconic has be­come syn­ony­mous with premium multi-brand fash­ion re­tail. Iconic stores of­fer over 80 brands with prod­ucts rang­ing from ap­parel and footwear, to fra­grances, sun­glasses, watches, leather prod­ucts and ac­ces­sories. Iconic is known for its mas­sive stores, premium lo­ca­tions, a plethora of trends and col­lec­tions, lav­ish in­te­ri­ors, wel­com­ing yet un­ob­tru­sive ser­vice and a long list of happy cus­tomers.

Ku­mar shares his vi­sion with S&A’S Amit Cho­pra in an in­ter­view.

How has been the re­tail ex­pe­ri­ence for Bu­gatti so far?

We started on­line and now with the Iconic tieup we are happy to an­nounce the launch of ex­clu­sive shop in shop ex­pe­ri­ence zones, start­ing with Iconic’s own stores. We have been pa­tient and are aware of how the In­dian premium shoe mar­ket is poised.

Which seg­ment and cat­e­gories of footwear have been con­sis­tently per­form­ing well? What are the rea­sons at­trib­uted to their suc­cess?

We de­sign and pro­duce a whole slew of cat­e­gories, for both men and women. In the women’s col­lec­tion the ca­sual shoes are very trednset­ting and are be­ing ac­cepted rapidly, while in the men’s our semi-for­mal shoes are cut­ting through in a space which we have clear unique­ness. This has to do with how cur­rent and pro­gres­sive our styles are, since the core strength of As­tor­mueller has al­ways been de­sign and de­vel­op­ment, while rid­ing the crest of the wave of trend­set­ting de­sign. This, along with the qual­ity of the fit our shoes of­fer, and the af­ford­able price points, are the key fac­tors and we see this re­main­ing the core prom­ise of the brand.

What did the brand bring to the In­dian mar­ket that was dif­fer­ent from other brands?

The Bu­gatti cul­ture is very spe­cial - it is all about de­tails, ex­cel­lence and ex­cep­tional qual­ity. Apart from the trend­set­ting style, we launch our col­lec­tions both in Europe and In­dia at the same time. The same shoes, with some dif­fer­ences, due to cli­matic vari­a­tions, in the over­all col­lec­tion.

How re­cep­tive have been the con­sumers?

We’ve been well ac­cepted we be­lieve, al­though our reach and first col­lec­tion has been lim­ited. For ex­am­ple, we have one cus­tomer who bought 5 pairs of shoes for him­self in suc­ces­sive months. We are hap­pi­est when cus­tomers talk about how well the shoe fits. We will closely watch the progress through our store pres­ence over the next 6 months, lead­ing up the next sea­son.

Was the pric­ing strat­egy right or would you be re­jig­ging the same?

The pric­ing strat­egy re­mains the same. The core price point rests at Rs 5-6,000 for men’s and a shade lower for women’s, while the col­lec­tion has styles that are lower and as high as Rs 9,000 as well.

What would be the ra­tio­nale be­hind busi­ness ex­pan­sion through dis­tri­bu­tion/ fran­chis­ing/on­line?

The mar­ket is ever grow­ing and we at As­tor­mueller are keen to reach out faster than usual. Time flies and while the mar­ket op­por­tu­nity re­mains, the mar­ket struc­ture does not of­fer the same ad­van­tages that we see in Europe, where it is largely driven by large chains. With a sin­gle na­tional dis­tri­bu­tion part­ner such as Iconic we are en­sur­ing that the busi­ness es­tab­lishes a ro­bust net­work across ge­ogra­phies faster, and con­trols the price par­ity be­tween ecom­merce and phys­i­cal re­tail.

Bu­gatti’s pres­ence has been very restricted so far, didn’t you un­der ex­ploit the po­ten­tial of your brand’s pres­ence in the re­tail mar­ket?

The last two years, we have had some dif­fi­cul­ties in shift­ing gears, and now we are full steam ahead. In a mat­ter of just next two months we will have a steady re­tail pres­ence in most north­ern mar­kets, and re­gion by re­gion growth will fol­low.

What would be the re­tail mar­ket­ing strat­egy in the com­ing years? What mar­kets are you look­ing to tap on?

Shop-in-shops in de­part­men­tal stores and multi­brand shoe stores, ecom­merce with the mar­ket­place model, and a few se­lect ex­clu­sive brand stores are al­ready in the plan and much of it is un­der­way. We are not plan­ning to re­strict the brand ge­o­graph­i­cally, but we are cater­ing to the young and mid­dle aged alike, given our range. Our col­lec­tion is very holis­tic, there’s a shoe for any oc­ca­sion with the ex­cep­tion of pure sports, and the price points am­plify the ap­peal of truly global brand name.

What global learn­ings would be brought to the In­dia re­tail chap­ter post the launch?

Bu­gatti has al­ready been in­tro­duced in In­dia, al­beit qui­etly, through the ecom­merce fash­ion stores. The Euro­pean mar­kets are very dif­fer­ent from In­dia,mainly due to the im­mense dif­fer­ences in re­tail struc­ture, the weather pat­terns and the fash­ion-sense of con­sumers. A lot of what we’ve learned has al­ready be­come part of our op­er­a­tional sys­tems, and we ex­pect to hold our above av­er­age price points to good ef­fect, just as we did in Europe early on. To­day we re­main one of the largest shoe brands in the mid­premium price band.

What would be your on­line strat­egy?

Ecom­merce via the mar­ket­place model, since we do not be­lieve in the dis­count­ing. Iconic will also be man­ag­ing this ef­fort.

The Bu­gatti cul­ture is very spe­cial - it is all about de­tails, ex­cel­lence and ex­cep­tional qual­ity.” – Sirish Ku­mar

Iconic, through its var­i­ous stores across the In­dian map, aims to de­liver a lav­ish and mem­o­rable shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence no less than that of shop­ping abroad, by pro­vid­ing a whop­ping num­ber of in­ter­na­tional brands, ex­cel­lent re­tail lo­ca­tions, world- class am­biance and top- ofthe- line ser­vice, all un­der one Iconic roof. It be­lieves in of­fer­ing each of its cus­tomers a unique shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence molded ac­cord­ing to their per­sonal style and choice which is why the stores boast over 80 in­ter­na­tional brands from across ap­parel, footwear, fra­grances, sun­glasses, watches, leather prod­ucts and ac­ces­sories. Pawan Khan­del­wal, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of Iconic Fash­ion shares his views on re­tail­ing Bu­gatti.

How you ended up in dis­tri­bu­tion of Bu­gatti?

Iconic al­ways has been known for be­ing a one-stop des­ti­na­tion for high-end premium brands for ap­parel, watches,

Iconic al­ways has been known for be­ing a on­estop des­ti­na­tion for high­end premium brands for ap­parel, watches, sun­glasses and per­fumes.” – Pawan Khan­del­wal

sun­glasses and per­fumes. Soon enough, cus­tomers started ex­pect­ing premium footwear and when we looked for brands that fit the ide­ol­ogy of Iconic, we couldn’t find any­thing bet­ter than Bu­gatti. It is premium, it is so­phis­ti­cated and stylish.

Why did you choose Bu­gatti?

Bu­gatti is one of the lead­ing premium footwear brands in Europe. Bu­gatti of­fers both hand-crafted prod­ucts as well as prod­ucts made us­ing lat­est ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies, so cus­tomers can have the best of both worlds. One of the most im­por­tant fac­tors to launch Bu­gatti at Iconic was our trend anal­y­sis re­ports that showed our cus­tomers lean fa­vor­ably to­wards Euro­pean brands which are more style-driven com­pared to Amer­i­can brands which are more lo­go­driven.

Who is your tar­get au­di­ence?

Well-trav­eled cus­tomers who are will­ing to spend on premium prod­ucts and as­pires for unique­ness.

What kind of growth do you fore­see for the brand Bu­gatti –

In 6 years. plan­ning to build a busi­ness of ` 100 crs ▶ ▶ And in 10 years. plan­ning to build a busi­ness of ` 230 crs

Who are your big­gest com­peti­tors?

We don’t see any di­rect com­peti­tor for our brand Iconic. Be­cause we are the only brand of­fer­ing over 80 “premium” brands all un­der one roof in the coun­try.

In terms of trad­ing den­sity ef­fi­ciency,

we can con­sider Lifestyle as our in­di­rect com­peti­tor be­tween MBOS, and Zara among sin­gle brand re­tail­ers. When it comes to footwear, we con­sider Aldo, Steve Mad­den and Charles & Keith as our com­peti­tors.

What are the ma­jor prob­lems that you think shoe brands are suf­fer­ing from?

For the shoe brands in In­dia, the mar­ket is much more com­pet­i­tive now as com­pared to ear­lier days. With the launch of nu­mer­ous in­ter­na­tional and even lo­cal brands, the chal­lenges for shoe brands have risen. The only way out is to keep evolv­ing and ex­per­i­ment­ing for giv­ing the best to the pa­trons.

How has the en­try of in­ter­na­tional brands af­fected the mar­ket?

En­try of in­ter­na­tional brands in­ten­si­fied the mar­ket dy­nam­ics and push­ing In­dian brands to im­prove the prod­uct of­fer­ings, ser­vice and qual­ity. Also, in­ter­na­tional brands have helped get­ting in more cus­tomers.

Sug­ges­tion that will help footwear brands to do busi­ness bet­ter.

Look­ing at the in­creased com­pet­i­tive in­ten­sity go­ing for­ward and im­pa­tient fash­ion con­scious pa­trons, brands must cre­ate an ef­fi­cient sup­ply chain sys­tem be­cause as fast as new trends emerge old one dies.

How do you man­age in­ven­tory / busi­ness dur­ing slow down?

It’s a com­bi­na­tion of few things – align your fu­ture buy­ing, bet­ter fore­cast­ing and ef­fec­tively us­ing liq­ui­da­tion chan­nels like out­lets and on­line chan­nels as a short­term mea­sure.

How do you deal with un­sold stock?

Sell them through liq­ui­da­tion chan­nels like end of sea­son sale in own out­lets and on­line chan­nels

One busi­ness mantra you fol­low?

Keep of­fer­ing best prod­ucts in an equally best am­bi­ence with top of the line ser­vices.

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