ITC Logo
Media Centre
Press Report

'We try to make fashion more accessible'
Economic Times - 21 Apr 2010

With over a decade in the lifestyle business, ITC Lifestyle is giving its mid-priced John Players brand a new face. While the lifestyle and retail arm of ITC continues to build its premium brand, Wills Lifestyle, on the Fashion Week platform and plans to double the Wills Lifestyle network to 100 stores in 18 months, the company is ready with plans to venture into smaller cities. Atul Chand, chief executive of ITC Lifestyle retail business, anchored the creation of lifestyle brands such as Wills Lifestyle and John Players. He established a nationwide retail footprint focusing on excellence in retail operations and consumer shopping experience. In an interview with ET, Atul Chand outlines the strategy to take the business to the next level. Excerpts:

What are the expansion plans for your lifestyle retailing business? What will be your strategy for Wills Lifestyle and John Players?

We are witnessing an improvement in consumer sentiments and are planning for profitable expansion for Wills Lifestyle and John Players across the markets. We plan to double the Wills Lifestyle network to 100 stores in 18 months, through a mix of more stores in existing markets and expanding the footprint in smaller markets through the franchising model.

John Players is enjoying heightened consumer interest and we are scaling up the retail presence by adding 100 exclusive stores to take the total to over 300. The focus will be multiple stores in metros, seeding smaller markets, thus taking the brand closer to the consumer.

It is our endeavour to make fashion more accessible as we target multiple consumer segments, enter new geographies, open more stores and make our products more appealing. The thrust will be to nurture markets, generate higher trials and develop lasting relationships with our customers.

Are there any marketing innovations or realignment of marketing spends that you are looking at?

With the year expected to see strong growth and our expansion plans intact, our marketing strategies will revolve around taking the brand message in an impactful manner to the targeted consumers. Our creative strategy and media mix will focus on showcasing our products in an aspirational manner. The association of leading designers and celebrities with the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week makes the brand high on glamour and desirability. Tie-ups with celebrities like Gul Panag, Farah Ali Khan and Sheetal Mallar for leveraging Social Media have created excitement around the brand and helped tune in with the youth.

We are giving John Players a complete makeover with Ranbir Kapoor as the brand ambassador. Ranbir as the “New face of cool” will heighten the relatability and bonding of John Players with the male Indian youth. Supplementing this initiative, we are energising our communication, expanding our footprint and making products more vibrant and fashionable. These are interesting times and brands high on innovation will be suitably rewarded by consumers.

To what extent has your association with leading designers and Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week helped the brand? How are you planning to leverage this further?

There is a beautiful synergy between the event and the brand and this has strengthened the equity with stronger recognition, appeal and loyalty. Research indicates that consumers view the brand as highly premium, fashionable and high on aspiration.

To celebrate this association, we tied up with India’s leading designers to co-create exclusive editions for retailing at Wills Lifestyle. This is perhaps the largest initiative of collaboration between a corporate and designer label. It facilitated our entry into the special occasion segment, provided designers with strong retail access and marketing support. The consumer has been the real winner, getting aspirational and glamorous designer wear, at accessible prices. Given the strong response from consumers, we are exploring the introduction of newer products and categories under our designer sub-brand, Wills Signature.

You have been trying to position Wills Lifestyle as a more aspirational and international brand, including rolling out high-end concept stores. How do you plan to go about it?

Wills Lifestyle is an established super-premium, lifestyle brand. As a “Bridge to Luxury”, the shopping experience provides personalised service, an international store ambience and high-end products. We are working with best international experts in the areas of design and product presentation to constantly raise the bar.

Click here to know more about the Lifestyle Retailing Business