In conversation with Ramesh Kaushik, Vice- President- Brand Experience, Blackberrys, who shares the USP of his brand and its future plans
This brand grew around 25 years ago in the bylanes of Chandni Chowk and is now ruling its category of men’s wear. Blackberrys is now reckoned as the leader in providing the Indian Man with the best wardrobe solutions. Starting with Suits and Jackets for formal occasions, to bringing in Khakis, the brand is now growing into innerwear, shoes and accessories too. We spoke to Ramesh Kaushik, Vice- President- Brand Experience, Blackberrys on his plans for the brand and much more on franchising.
Why only into men’s wear? Do we see the brand foraying into other sections as well? Women’s wear? Kids wear
The genesis of a brand essentially lies in identifying the gap in men’s wardrobe. So, that’s where the whole brand journey started. As we moved ahead we have done a lot of breakthroughs products and innovations. We still feel that this as a category is an ever evolving one. We see casualisation of more and more wardrobes happening. The younger scene is also coming into play. We are not averse to category or line expansion. When we are ready in terms of category expansion, we will definitely come back to you. We have a brand called Urban by Blackberrys which is essentially a denim wear brand focussing on 18+ segment. So, I would say that as we are growing in terms of number of years of operations in India, we are growing younger in terms of the number of wardrobe solutions prepositions that we have.
Tell us about your total no of stores and how many are franchisee run?
We operate in a multi channel strategy. So, apart from e- commerce we have EBO’s, Franchise outlets, MBO’s and large format stores. We would be the largest brand when it comes to operating via COCO network. Under COCO we have around 200+ stores. In FOCO, right now we have more than 25 franchisees, but the expansion is specially coming in from this segment only. We are present in more than 100 cities with more than 1000 touch points.
What makes you stand out in your own category and people identifying Blackberrys as an international brand now?
Firstly, it’s the product and then the innovation in the product which is at multiple levels. One is fabric and the quality. Secondly, it is design and cuts. And third is the fit. It’s slightly tricky to understand the fit of an Indian male consumer. This has been our strength and USP from the day one that we have been extremely close to the consumer in terms of style, taste and preference. When it comes to price, we have been extremely conscious about adding more segments into the fold. A brand is as national or international as the consumer is. Our consumer today is a truly evolved international Indian. This has been the reason for our success in India.
Many Indian-local brands are now established and grown into big names like yours. What are the top 3 things to remember while establishing a brand in India?
I follow a model which focuses on consumer, category and channel. One needs to actually identify who is the consumer. Understanding the taste and behaviour of the consumer is very important. Behaviour in terms of what he/she is consuming and consumption pattern. Second is category. What is my product preposition to the consumer? Is it at the lead level or am I completely creating a new need? Third is the channel. I have a product. I know who my consumer is and now I need partners who are willing to take the brand closer to the consumer. For us partner engagement is extremely critical and important. A happy satisfied and well fulfilled partner can actually take the brand to the next new level.
So, how do you choose your partners? Any specific parameters?
Apart from the financial parameter, what we look in our partner is his understanding of the potential consumer in their city. How they plan to connect our brand to the consumer plays an important role for us in selecting the right partner.
Tell us about your expansion plans? How many stores lined up for this year end?
The horizontal and vertical landscape of the country is too vast. The e-commerce partners that we have are all taking about the number of pin codes that they cater to. That is actually the canvas that we play in. When we actually talk about expansion on the physical retail level, we are planning to add 70 new footprints this year. We are essentially going into the tier II, III segments, but not from a city perspective but more from the consumer segment perspective. So, in metros also, we would have pockets which are tier ii, iii consumer centric. So, you will see us expanding horizontally when it comes to metros and vertically when it comes to expanding in the other parts of the country.