Advisory Oct, 03 2011

Kolkata: Attracting brand force

Kolkata has witnessed the opening of various branded stores in the city lately. Adding to the retail augmentation, more and more franchise brands are looking at inroads into this city. What is attracting them?

By Neha Malhotra
Sub Editor, Franchise India Holdings Limited, Web Division
Kolkata: Attracting brand force

Kolkata, the metropolitan city of East India has been on an economic rejuvenation since 2000 which has gradually led to the acceleration in the city's growth. Looking at its growing status, more and more well established franchise players are looking at opening stores via franchising in the city to add to their portfolio. Firstly let us have a look at the motivating factors that have made many brands foray and expand in this city via franchise route.

Boosting factors

The last few years have witnessed many old as well as new brands to set up their franchise outlets in the city of Kolkata. The factors aiding this fast paced emergence of brands, both Indian and International, is the urban and aware population of the city. Kolkata is the 13th most populous urban area in the world and the eighth largest urban agglomeration in the world.

There has been over-all development in East India and other north eastern states but being the main business, commercial and financial hub, Kolkata has experienced more of expansion. This added feature has been attracting more retailers and franchisors to reap benefits from this profitable city. Also Kolkatta has a literacy rate of 81 per cent which exceeds the all-India average of 66 per cent. This spells that along with the city comprising of educated customers, the manpower that is available is well informed and skilled. Therefore franchisors as well as franchisees have an easier access to well-qualified employees in Kolkata as compared to rest of India.

Brand presence

As mentioned established franchise players seeing success of their venture in Kolkata have expanded rapidly with many outlets. One of such brands is Ferns N Petals, which has opened its fourth store at Srinikunj and previously has outlets at Salt Lake City, Allenby Road and New Town. Commenting on the same, Vikaas Gutgutia, Managing Director and Founder, Ferns N Petals said, “We are highly pleased to create one more stop of FNP in the upscale market of Kolkatta, which greets the urbanised and premium products like ours. The vibrant culture of the city and the tremendous potential experienced by us through our FNP’s online retailing induced us to cater to these audiences with our premium products and services. He further stated that, “After experiencing the tremendous results, we are pleased to have yet another retail outlet in place, where a consumer can simply walk in, experience the gracious collection of flowers and buy it. We are truly confident about our products and services satiating consumer’s needs across the length and breadth of the city through our online and offline retail presence.”

Another established player, Crossword book store has also recently opened an outlet in City Centre, Salt Lake, Kolkata. Speaking on the occasion, Sidharth Pansari, MD, Crossword, Kolkata, said: “We bring with us a complete experience - an enviable range of books for all ages and interest groups - an energizing space to attract the different generations and a forum for many different ideas and people to come together.”

Titan Eye+ has opened a store at Salt Lake and feels that with the growing demand for quality prescription eyewear in Kolkata made it inevitable for them to open more stores in the city. The store has a wide range of spectacle frames, sunglasses and contact lenses which include house brands of Titan Eye + and Dash along with spectacle frames and sunglasses from renowned International brands like Esprit, Tommy Hilfiger, Hugo Boss, D&G and Versace among others.

Global franchise Architects (GFA) had joined hands with Gama Hospitality, a Kolkata based company to launch GFA food brands all over the eastern states.  According to Joseph Cherian, CEO - GFA India, “Kolkata and other eastern parts of the country are rapidly growing markets in India and have not been tapped to their full potential. The food service market is very nascent here and offers great opportunities for new brands to penetrate and flourish.” He further informed, “It is indeed of great advantage to have the franchise route for the eastern region. The franchise partner has the local market expertise consumer understanding and execution capabilities and we can support them with our experience in the food service industry in addition to the operating know-how.”

Few international brands, foreseeing their success in Kolkata have made forays in this city. French Connection (FCUK) has also made its debut in Kolkata with a 1,400-sq.ft store at South City Mall and is confident of brand’s successful domination in the space, given the vibrancy and the fashion-forward mindset of the Kolkata consumer.

Tommy Hilfiger marked its childrenswear store debut in East India market by opening its first store in Forum Courtyard Mall, Kolkata. Optimistic about their business in the city, the reason for choosing this particular location was the presence of other premium brands in the mall which would help cater to the target clientele.

Franchisor’s take

The brands making their presence felt in Kolkata are majorly expanding via franchise route. Irrespective of their place of origin these brands have successfully expanded in Kolkata. The credit for this goes to franchising. The city is sure to attract more franchisors in the future if it continues on its path towards growth. Kolkata will soon be one of the most favoured retail destinations for all retailers and franchisors.

Related: Think global act local in franchising

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