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Wills Lifestyle sees growth in premium, online segments
The Hindu Business Line - 05 Apr 2014

Wills Lifestyle, ITC's Lifestyle Retailing Division, says that wardrobe segmentation is driving up apparels as a category. The company says that being a partner in the just-concluded Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week organised by the Fashion Design Council of India has given the brand not just visibility but also helped strengthen its ramp-to rack initiatives. In an interview with Business Line, Atul Chand, Divisional Chief Executive, ITC's Lifestyle Retailing Business, identifies opportunities such as own ecommerce platform, expanding through shop-in shops and also making niche segment bigger in size. Excerpts:

How has associating with fashion week given a fillip to the brand Wills Lifestyle?

There is a huge awareness regarding fashion. When we started our association in 2006, it was for added brand visibility. However, it has helped us associate with different designers and create signature lines.

Now our entire portfolio is built around fashion and we have about 6-8 collections annually against four a couple of years ago.

You have said that segmentation of wardrobe is becoming sharper. What exactly does it mean?

Segmentation of wardrobe to suit an occasion, for instance, job interview or marriage ceremony or a casual picnic - have all led to demand for different clothes for specific occasions. To cater to this demand, we have created categories such as Wills Classic to Clublife and Eco Style, etc.

We also notice that number of garment per individual has grown from 1.5 garments to nearly 2.2 garments on an average.

Wills Lifestyle has largely operated through company-owned-company-operated stores. Has that strategy changed?

We have about 95 stores largely company-owned-company-operated. However, we are looking at expanding through franchisee model and also through shop-in shops as there are newer growth potentials with new malls coming up in tier-2 and -3 cities as well. We want to add 15 stores by next year largely through franchisee route.

Several of your competitors are strategising to gear up to the e-commerce revolution. What about you?

There is traction in the e-commerce space.

We are looking at our own online platform as we believe that omni-retail channels will grow significantly.

Currently, less than five per cent of our revenue comes from online verticals. We hope to double it.

Has your ramp-to-rack initiative added to topline?

We have associated with at least top ten designers and have seen 15-20 per cent sales coming from signature. The average ticket size per consumer stands at roughly Rs. 2,200.

Also categories such as women's formal wear and high end men's shirt are showing growth.

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