Da Milano is a luxury brand with a distinctive Italian sensibility and strong brand recognition in Europe, North America, Asia and Australia. In an interview with Neha Malhotra, Mr Sahil Malik, Managing Director, Da Milano talks about the growth of the brand in India, its franchise journey and the bringing of Staccato to India.
Neha Malhotra (NM): Tell us something about the origin of Da Milano as a brand?
Sahil Malik (SM): Da Milano with a distinctive Italian sensibility entered the Indian market in 1989. Our first outlet was opened in Connaught Place and it’s the largest store in terms of any leather goods store in the country.
NM: When did the company decide to opt for franchising? What is the eligibility criterion to be a Da Milano franchisee?
SM: We took up franchising five years ago. The franchisee should have his own location in a good area with a good footfall. He should be ready to invest around R 20 to 30 lakh. His physical presence at the store is also important.
NM: What are the products offered by you? Can you brief us about the manufacturing of the products?
SM: Da Milano offers an array of impeccable products that include handbags, briefcases, computer bags, garments, portfolios, wallets, belts and small accessories for both men and women.
Da Milano has two state of the art, company owned manufacturing units at Nalagarh in Himachal Pradesh equipped with the latest and most advanced machinery. They have a highly skilled workforce operating under the guidance of Italian technicians. They also have an exclusive tannery near Chennai in Tamil Nadu where leather produced is benchmarked to the latest process technology.
NM: How many outlets do you have at present and how many of these are franchised?
SM: At present we have 17 stores out of which five stores are franchised.
NM: What all training and support do you provide to the franchisees?
SM: The company provides training and support in terms of store set up, staff training, product related support and selling techniques.
NM: What is the break even period for a Da Milano franchisee?
SM: The break even time for a franchise varies from location to location, but on an average it should take a franchisee about 18 months to break even.
NM: The company has recently brought the brand Staccato in India. Can you highlight the details of the kind of agreement signed and their retail plans?
SM: Da Milano has entered into a 50:50 joint venture with London based, Pavers Foresight Smart Ventures to retail the premium footwear brand, Staccato, in India. Under this agreement, we will be setting up six exclusive stores which would mainly be in malls in tier II cities. As of now, we will be focusing on opening company owned exclusive stores and will look at franchising later.
NM: What are the company’s future plans in terms of expansion through franchising or through company owned outlets?
SM: By the end of this year, we will be opening up about six to seven Da Milano exclusive stores.