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ITC plans more Wills Lifestyle stores in north
Business Standard - 24 Mar 2006

The retail business division of ITC Ltd, is planning to open Wills Lifestyle and John Players exclusive stores in the northern region.

Wills Lifestyle stores, which initially offered only sportswear, has expanded its basket to include the premium consumer with formal wear, evening wear and a designer accessories.

Similarly, John Players offers a contemporary range of men's wear, shirt, trousers, denims and T-shirts. With the opening of new stores, ITC aspires to build a dominant presence in the apparel market in the region.

Talking to Business Standard, Chitranjan Dar, divisional chief executive, ITC Ltd, Lifestyle Retailing Business Division, says, "Currently, we have Wills Lifestyle stores in Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Jammu, Gurgaon and Noida in the north. We will be opening two more in Ludhiana and Chandigarh, besides one in Jallandhar and Amritsar shortly. After that we will be focussing on Tier III towns like Sangrur as we believe that they have a huge untapped market for exclusive specialty stores. Having built a powerful brand, we are poised to grow and build a dominant presence in the country's fashion industry." Dar was in the city recently to attend retail conclave.

ITC is planning to make the John Players brand, launched in 2002 to broad-base the array of branded apparel that the company offers, bigger.

"Our focus will be to strengthen the brand's presence in both the exclusive outlets and multi-brand outlets. Currently, John Players is available in 35 exclusive outlets and we will be expanding it to 70 outlets in the region. Currently, our team is evaluating locations for the expansion of John Players brand. The potential is vibrant and noticeable. There is a strong need for organised retailing. We are targeting a growth rate of 30 per cent every year."

John Players has outlets in Delhi, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Mumbai, Chandigarh and Saharanpur at present.

Talking about the company’s plan for major expansion in Tier III cities in the north to become a market leader on quality and pricing, Dar said, "We are providing better quality products vis-a-vis other players in the market with competitive pricing. We are confident of beating the other brands in the next few years as we expand further.”

“Every season, we are adding new products, like in Wills Lifestyle we have added perfumes under the Essenza Di Wills brand. Similarly, we have a special variety of colours for our north stores, keeping in mind the different colour preference of people here. We also offer a wider variety of winter collection distinct from our collection for the southern markets here.

“This season, a wider choice of accessories will be offered. We have recently partnered with designers to create the first edition of the exclusive Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week Line. The Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week Line will be first showcased at the Grand Finale and subsequently retailed at Wills Lifestyle stores across the country," he said.