ITC Limited plans to open a network of 25 Wills Life Style stores across the country by early August this year. As a prelude to the nation-wide roll out, the Lifestyle Retailing Division (LRD) of ITC Limited plans to come out with major outdoor and print campaign, handled by Lowe Lintas, beginning mid-June 2001.
Currently, ITC has presence with only one company-leased Wills Life Style store in New Delhi, which was opened in July 2000. Encouraged by the success of its Delhi store, ITC plans to add two more outlets in Delhi out of its new network of 25.
The first phase will see the expansion focussed on the 25 outlets in smaller boom towns like Ambala, Chandigarh, Bareli, Pune, Indore, Ranchi, Bhuvaneshwar, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Cochin, Vizag, Coimbatore, Pondicherry, Mangalore, Thiruvanathapuram, Calicut, Aurangabad and Belgaum.
In the second phase the company will roll out across major metros like Mumbai. ITC’s next national print and outdoor campaign — with a tagline of ‘Be a Sport’ — will promote the Wills Life Style network. ‘‘The campaign will communicate that sports is a state of mind.’’
As per its dual branding strategy, Wills Sports will be a relaxed wear brand while Wills Life Style will be a retail brand. This will allow, in future, to push Wills Sports products in multi-brand outlets. Premium brand accessories and perfumes will however be available at Wills Life Style outlets.
The Wills Life Style network will have a mix of company-leased and franchised outlets. Of the upcoming 25 outlets which have been implemented on a turnkey basis, 14 are franchised operations and 11 company-owned.
The outline for ITC’s Lifestyle retailing expansion has been laid out by the US-based American Design Intelligence group. The consultancy is helping ITC in its retailing strategy, design selection, visual merchandising as well as operational procedures and processes.
According to the company, a brand audit during December 2000-January 2001, by Indian Market Research Bureau, for its Delhi outlet revealed that Wills Sports apparel’s share of mind space garnered was much larger than the company’s share of the market.
The big format Wills Life Style stores will carry around 110 styles (around 4,000 SKUs) while the smaller, 1,000 sqft stores in smaller towns may stock around 50-60 styles (1,500 SKUs).
As a strategy, this division has also taken a firm decision to stay away from seasonal discounting of its products. The company proposes to change designs every six months—though around two dozen core styles will remain unchanged.
The company also plans to extend its portal www.willssport.com to emerge as a customer service extension and enable repeat buyers to access the Wills Lifestyle network and order through the new medium.