Harkirat Singh, Woodland India
With a portfolio of close to 600 stores in 250 cities, Woodland’s merchandise range has recently gone beyond its outdoor and casual brand approach by launching a premium footwear brand exclusively for women. As the brand is slated to not only open 40-50 EBOs, but also to open more lounge-style shopping environment for Woods, VM&RD speaks to Harkirat Singh, Managing Director, Woodland India Pvt Ltd, on brick-and-mortar operations, expansion, omni channel presentation and more.
How difficult is it to manage operations of 600 stores without franchisee model, unlike many footwear retailers in India?
Stores are where we can speak about our brand story and we are not comfortable in operating via franchise model only except smaller towns in places like J&K and North East, where we avoid going to due to safety issues. Though we work with 5000 shoe retailers in India, we are and will be robust in our EBO expansion. We are opening 40-50 stores combining Woodland and Woods. Though we are changing our retail environment towards a more luxurious fashion specially for our brand Woods and for that we are working closely with our German vendor, our project team will soon take over the whole retail design execution. Gradually, we plan to make the elements indigenous because fixtures, lighting etc are much cheaper here.
What kind of retail format are you coining for Woods?
Woods is a more formal fashion brand and it’s for women. We have already opened a Woods Lounge at New Delhi’s high street address South Extension. Depicting British design sensibilities, the store boasts wooden cladded walls with textured metal and gold plating. While designing these lounges, we were partial towards light colours and soft lighting to offer a relaxed retail environment. Also, because of very different brand ethos, we are not keen on locating our Woods and Woodland store in the same location. The 10 upcoming Woods store will essentially find their addresses in premium malls amidst of similar brand mix. However, all new Woods store may not be able to have the lounge design simply because we will not have the luxury of big space everywhere.
How does your brand perform through MBOs, large format stores and e-commerce?
Apart from our EBO operations, we work with practically all major shoe retailers of the country. Although we provide our POPs etc to wherever we are present, dishing out definite brand story is off course an issue at MBOs and LFSs. Moreover, space is a problem thus leading to limitations in keeping full stock. Having said all of these, MBOs today are giving us stupendous business because of its far reach. On the other hand our exclusive e-commerce place is growing to almost double up its performance. It’s been 4 years since we launched it and it’s already contributing 15% of our overall sales.
Would you like to throw some light on your sales growth?
We generally look at 10%-15% growth every year but business dipped last year because of the sudden axe of demonetization. We expect much better this year.
Harkirat Singh, Managing Director, Woodland India Pvt Ltd