Harki­rat Singh, Wood­land In­dia

VM&RD - - Contents - Satarupa Chakraborty

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

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