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ITC lifestyle products make inroads into international markets despite slowdown
The Hindu - 28 Jun 2009

‘Ramp-to-Rack’ initiative strengthens product equity in the domestic segment

Despite economic slowdown, ITC’s lifestyle products have made major inroads into overseas markets. “ITC Lifestyle achieved growth in spite of global economic slowdown and contraction in
major world markets”. Stating this Atul Chand, chief executive, Lifestyle Retailing, ITC, said: “Export business achieved a robust growth of 32 per cent in the target US and European markets”. The company’s international customers include Calvin Klien, Armani Exchange, Polo, Tema, Nordstrom, Maxmara and Gruppo Zanier.

“Our product mix has moved from basics to value-added premium fashion products and there has been an increase in women’s wear, where customer requirements are for high fashion, newer silhouettes and cuts and embellishments,” he said.

The Wills Lifestyle product portfolio caters to both women and men with women contributing 35 per cent to the overall sales compared to 20 per cent a couple of years ago, Mr. Chand said.

For the domestic market, the FMCG major has made a strategic move by launching what it describes as ‘Ramp-to-Rack’ initiative. Under this, creations by leading Indian designers are retailed under the ‘Wills Signature’ sub-brand, which already accounts for 10 per cent of the store sales. Calling this the largest such initiative undertaken in the country, Mr. Chand said that this had strengthened ITC’s product equity and added another facet to the portfolio, besides attracting newer consumers to the stores. Besides design houses in Italy, tie-ups have been struck with Indian designers like Rohit Bal, Rajesh Pratap Singh, Shantanu-Nikhil, Manish Arora an Anamika Khanna.

On the issue of rentals, he said that discussions were on with mall and property-owners on rental reductions as well as alternative models like revenue-sharing. This was being done to arrive at mutually beneficial commercial arrangements.

Retail rentals have declined by 30-40 per cent in the last six months as a result of the slowdown and footfalls have been lower.

Wills Lifestyle, which has 50 exclusive stores, now plans to leverage opportunities in new and emerging retail markets and formats in Tier-II and Tier-III cities, Mr. Chand said. John Players, which also launched jeans, at present has 220 exclusive stores in over 100 markets. Additionally, it is present in over 1,200 leading large format retailers and multi-brand outlets.

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