A complete apparel brand for men with offerings in the casual wear and the super premium segment, Louis Philippe is the poneering brand to launch international fashion trends in Indian market. In an interview, Jacob John, Brand Head of Louis Philippe shares the brand’s further growth plans in India.
Namita Bhagat (NB): Brief us on the growth journey of Louis Philippe in India.
Jacob John (JJ): Louis Philippe brand was launched in India in1989 and it created the super premium segment in the Rs 5000 crore men’s readymade category from Madura Fashion and Lifestyle (Aditya Birla Nuvo). Inspired from the era of King Louis Philippe of France, who, for his generosity of spirit and his appreciation of the arts, was known as the citizen King, the brand is the first to launch international fashion trends in the India. The brand initially positioned as ‘Signed Designer wear’ later extended the positioning to create a sense of exclusivity and is also the first to launch Iconic collections. The black and white Collections (1996) and the super premium Gods and Kings (2003) ensured that the fans are excited about the brand. Another blockbuster product from the brand’s stable was the Perma Press range of 100 per cent wrinkle free shirts which became a huge hit with the executives.
NB: What does the brand stand for?
JJ: Louis Philippe a premium men’s wear brand that stands for passion, racing and sport. It has been a statement of status and style for powerful men.
NB: How is the brand positioned in Indian market and who are its target clientele?
JJ: The brand is for those that the truly discerning and is the ideal companion for those that have 'arrived' in life. Seeing itself as a complete apparel brand for men with offerings in the casual wear segment as well as the super premium segment, the brand targets group is the status-conscious male in the age group of 25-40; some-one who feels is a notch above others in terms of style, fashion and attitude. They are also early adaptors of style and fashion.
NB: What are the growth drivers of the premium retail market in India, particularly in your business segment?
JJ: ‘Consumer Pull’ seems to be the most important driving factor behind the sustenance of the industry. The purchasing power of the customers has increased to a great extent, with the influencing the retail industry to a great extent, a variety of other factors also seem to fuel the retailing boom.
NB: What are the challenges in the market and what is your strategy to overcome them?
JJ: Indian retail industry is going through a transition phase. Most of the retailing in our country is still in the unorganised sector. Though retailing in India is undergoing an exponential growth, the road ahead is full of challenges such as finding the right location as it is the most important ingredient for any business that relies on customers, and is typically the prime consideration in a customers store choice. Secondly, the primary goal of the most retailers is to sell the right kind of merchandise and nothing is more central to the strategic thrust of the retailing firm. It is perhaps, the most important function for any retail organization, as it decides what finally goes on shelf of the store. Thirdly, pricing is a crucial strategic variable due to its direct relationship with a firm's goal and its interaction with other retailing elements. The importance of pricing decisions is growing because today's customers are looking for good value when they buy merchandise and services. Also, scale of operations including all the supply chain activities is one of the key challenges that the Indian retailers are facing. The cost of business operations is very high in India.
NB: How does the brand plans to grow its retail presence, especially via franchising?
JJ: We are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to increase our brand presence and there is a thrust now to start looking at tier I and II cities as well apart from metros for future growth. Franchising is at the core of our retail strategy and work with different types of franshisee principal relationships in our effort to provide the best value to our partners as well.
Unfortunately we are not in a position to provide specific numbers and investment needed for opening a Louis Phillipe franchise store at this point of time.
NB: How lucrative the business opportunity for an aspiring franchisee wanting to partner with you?
JJ: All of our retail partners have had long lasting relationships with us and that is an indication of the business value that the brand delivers to the franchisee. This furthered by the fact that key metrics such as return on investment and break even period is better than industry standards, has always ensured that we have had partners willing to join the family. Fortunately for us, our heritage of success in retail has also helped us manage our exclusivity in the market over competition over the past several years.