There's life after Lee Cooper for Indus Clothing, and it's fully-loaded too.
There is plenty on the plate of Harpartap Singh, managing director of Indus Clothing. He has wasted no time since parting ways with Lee Cooper, the foreign brand he was selling in India.
He's busy gunning for the denim market with new launches, the latest being Italian jeanswear brand Rifle. This is part of an exclusive licensee agreement with the ¤175 million Super Rifle spa to produce and market the brand in India.
The target consumer is the youngster in the 16-33 age bracket, the sort open to edgy new brand messages. Its pricing, at a 20-per cent premium over "mass brands" — in the Rs 1,300-2,500 range, that is — is ambitious, given that almost nobody has heard of the label in India.
Singh, however, believes that the price tags can be justified. For one, the costs structure is such. "While Rifle is a regular brand in Italy, the quality of finishes, fabric and treatment is costing us that much — and works out at a little premium here," he says.
He should know. After all, he helped build Lee Cooper since its 1994 entry, a brand's licence that has since moved to Pantaloon Retail.
For another, Singh is convinced that the brand has sharp enough aim — and can fire its way fast (and uniquely) into the target consumer's mind. The advertising, undertaken by Law & Kenneth, has already struck attention with outdoor posters and the like.
"We wish to communicate the international imagery of the brand," says Singh, "and have desisted from using the faces of the models."
The brand building budget: Rs 3 crore. It's small, given the bustle in the jeans market, but Singh wants to make up for that with well thought out precision targeting.
For media efforts, too, Rifle is being handled modestly (in expense terms at least) — by local outfit Media Shop. Expect brand hoopla to take the form of live events such as Rifle's Sing and Swing karaoke contest.
It's a roadshow that has malls, shopping centres, colleges and other popular youth haunts firmly within its sights, and across Mumbai, New Delhi, Pune, Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Amritsar and Jaipur.
By way of distribution, plans are afoot to set up exclusive Rifle stores in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chandigarh by the end of 2007, even as a series of shop-in-shops pop up. Indus Clothing hopes to have 20 stores by 2007, and 40 in smaller cities by 2008.
The company claims to have earmarked an investment of Rs 30 crore over the next three years, which includes a Rs 2 crore plan for its Uttaranchal unit.
Meanwhile, for Super Rifle spa, this represents a shot at a market that no global player can afford to miss. Singh, for his part though, is diversifying his portfolio to keep his overall risk exposure low.
He is armed with Disney licenced jeans (again, like Rifle, an exclusive arrangement) as part of his larger arsenal for the conquest of the Indian jeans market. While a well-aimed effort tends to bear a higher chance of success, it is still that — a chance.