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Noel Tata puts his best foot forward

Last updated on: November 15, 2010 10:44 IST

Noel Tata puts his best foot forward

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Sarmistha Neogy in Mumbai

Tashi wasn't Tata International's debut in footwear retailing as the company had launched the Stryde brand a decade ago.

That failed experiment, however, didn't come in the way of the hype that Tashi has generated since its launch a month back.

There are two reasons for this: One, this was the first significant initiative taken by Tata International after Noel Tata took charge as managing director, leading many to believe that the company would be second time lucky because of the managing director's vast experience in his previous job as the head of Trent, the Tata Group's retail venture.

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Image: Noel Tata, managing director, Tata International.
Photographs: Reuters
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The difference was visible: unlike Stryde, which followed the franchisee route, Tashi will be a company-operated brand with strong in-house logistics and distribution support.

The second reason for the buzz over Tashi is of course the way it has been promoted so far -- starting with teaser ads such as 'Think men can't be faithful? Think again. . .' all over Mumbai where Tashi launched its first store a month ago.

KV Sridhar, national creative director of Leo Burnett, says, "We leveraged these teaser ads and worked on rekindling peoples' love for shoes".

The company now plans to start six to eight exclusive stores in Mumbai, Delhi and Chandigarh by the month-end.

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Image: A Tashi store.

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Tashi will also look at malls to ensure maximum brand visibility and customer accessibility.

Tata International vice president (retail) Deepak Deshpande says, "We have started with the northern and the western regions, but will become a pan-India brand soon."

Nearly 80 per cent of the chain's products consist of in-house brands while the balance are international ones.

Tashi offers shoes for men, women and children across the spectrum -- from Rs 700 to Rs 8,000.

Tashi's range of footwear includes Oxfords, Brogans, Moccasins, Boots, Monks and Derbies for men.

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Image: A Tata International ad.

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For women, it consists of stilettos, pumps, heels, sandals and flat.

In addition to shoes, leather accessories such as bags, belts, wallets and jackets will also be sold under the brand.

Tata International already supplies shoes to international brands such as Betty Barclay, Peter Keiser, Marks & Spencer, GCI, Mango, Pierre Cardin, Hush Puppies and Indian retailers, Westside, Shoppers Stop and Raymonds.

The company has one of the largest manufacturing facilities in Asia, in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh, and in Chennai. The design studios are in Italy, Spain and India.

The company knew it has to do something unique to create a buzz in a crowded market.

And that's when creative agency Leo Burnett came up with the teaser ad idea with smart catch-lines.

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Image: Jamshetji Tata.
Photographs: Courtesy, Outlook Business
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It also arranged for flash mobs of 50-60 people who would suddenly break into a tap dance while walking on the streets of Mumbai. Deshpande says, "The idea has worked going by the increasing walk-ins at the store located in Bandra.

"Tashi will move into tier-II and III cities as well, as Deshpande feels people in these areas are also becoming style conscious and have the money to splurge.

Despande says competition for Tashi is of three types: existing branded players like Woodland and Metro; departmental stores; and finally, local brands.

He, however, is confident that there is ample growth opportunity for all players, as the per capita footwear spend is still quite low in the country.


Image: Naval Tata, Ratan Tata and Noel Tata (in the centre).
Photographs: Courtesy, Outlook Business
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