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Why Clarks Shoes entered India
October 24, 2005
Clarks Shoes, UK's largest brand, has tied up with lifestyle retail company Lifestyle Asia in India. Clarks is the official supplier of shoes to Britain's royal family.
The brand tested the waters with three stores in May 2005 and is readying itself for a formal launch next week. Nilesh Hada, director, Lifestyle Asia, says about its plans for the Indian market.
What has prompted Clarks to enter India?
Each Clarks store in the UK would see several Indian tourists who would come looking especially for Clarks shoes. So we knew that brand awareness was already very high.
Also, the market for premium shoes in India is Rs 8,000 crore (Rs 80 billion) and growing rapidly. India is the 166th country where Clarks has a presence.
Any special events planned in India as part of the launch?
Our 2006 lines will be given their global launch in India. It will launch its 2006 lines here first before any other country.
There are several shoe brands in the market. What's your USP?
Clarks has the distinction of being the leading company in research and development in podiary research. The researchers then work with a team of designers to provide excellent footwear.
Clarks has conducted pioneering research in shoe design. So our USP is that we offer both style and comfort. Style doesn't come at the expense of comfort.
What products are you offering?
Clarks will currently offer only ladies and men's shoes in India. The price ranges are from Rs 2,500 to Rs 7,000.
Depending on the response we plan to launch a children's range. We have formal, sports and casual shoes.
What's your target audience?
Our shoes are for ladies and gents in the age group of 15-45. While the shoes are affordable mostly to those in the A to A+ income category, we want the product to have some aspirational value for other income segments.
It's something to wear to look and feel better. Clarks should be something to aspire to.
Is the pricing structure in India different from that of Clarks in other countries?
Its on par with retail prices in all stores worldwide. Clarks does not like to have different prices in different countries. It would only hurt operations in the country the company is based in.
What are your expansion plans in India?
We have three stores currently in Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Bangalore. We're aiming for setting up one company owned store every month.
However, our goal is also to supply to domestic shops. So we plan to have a presence in 300 stores by 2006.
What's been your experience in the Indian market?
Repeat customers have become the norm. We hadn't really expected many sales when we started in May. Also, the monsoon months are the worst times.
All we were focusing on was setting up the distribution channels and getting the basic infrastructure in place. We still sold 40 pairs per week. In the current holiday season our sales were roughly 120 words per week.
Are there special challenges with respect to India?
In other countries, ladies' premium shoes sell more than men's shoes. However, because of the pricing structure, premium shoes sell more. Men tend to buy premium shoes once or twice a year.
Ladies, who have to buy several pairs of shoes for each and every dress, find it a little expensive and shy away from the premium market. It's not a major challenge though.
How will you overcome that challenge? Any fears?
Absolutely not, we know that if you wear Clarks once, you'll wear Clarks for life!