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Footwear Industry 2017-11-10

We are soon planning to come up with a Sparx campaign starring Akshay Kumar: Rajeev Bhatia

In conversation with Rajeev Bhatia, Vice President - Marketing, Relaxo, who spoke about the importance of franchising and what made the brand opt for it.

By Ekta Sharma Feature Writer

For over 40 years, Relaxo has been the choice of millions of Indians. Earlier it was for durability and comfort, but now it also has attitude and style statement. After a long time now, the brand decided to embrace the franchise route and recently opened a 700 sq ft franchise store at Frazer road in Patna. Rajeev Bhatia, Vice President- Marketing, Relaxo spoke exclusively with us on the raison d'être for opting for franchise route and plans ahead. Read on this interesting chat...

Why franchising now?  Was this delay due to the reason of not finding the right franchise partner?
Conventionally in India, we are marketing our products through conventional distributors from where products are brought by everyone. Then what happens is, when you go to a retailer and ask for any product, even before actually looking at that product, you immediately want a second choice and more colours or more variety. So, as a retailer he has to keep more stock as per demand. As a manufacturer, we see that it is very difficult to showcase our entire range to the consumers at one place. So, company decided to open own retail outlets. So, we will be able to show our maximum possible options and range to the buyer. Now, that we are ready with our expertise of running our own stores, the requirements, etc. We are also set to take the next step ahead.  When we move from the platform of a manufacturer to the platform of a retailer, there is a big difference in terms of systems, the thought process etc. The company decided to take a cautious step forward and invite partners as our franchisees.

Are you planning to come up with more franchise stores?
As per the response, we will move ahead. We are confident that we will succeed but just opening and closing the store is not important. Most vital is running the store successfully. We should also know the partners expectations. We are manufacturers but not retailers. Same way, we are now retailers but not franchisors. Now that we have just started franchising, we will learn the route and move in this direction and expand the brand.

Current store count and plans by 2017 end.
We already have 378 outlets. We are constantly looking for more but we also have to manage them in terms of supplies etc. We are a little careful and positive too. There are a lot of things that have to be managed at one time. So, it will be a very calculative move that we would like to take.  

What is the biggest challenge for shoe industry in India apart from the mushrooming of many non branded players in the market?
The shoe industry in India is a 50 thousand crore+ industry. Being unorganised is one of the biggest challenges but then every pair of feet requires one footwear so, as  everybody in the industry has fair amount of potential. So, in totality  the unorganised path is a challenge. Now, with GST, we hope that people will more fall in line in terms of compliances etc. That will be definitely of help. Other than this, being small or unorganised means having a quick turnaround time. A larger system has comparatively more processes and systems which are good in the long term.

You have the best brand ambassadors- Salman Khan, Akshay, Shahid. You have the best sub brands- Bahamas, Sparx. What’s next?
We are soon planning to come up with a Sparx campaign starring Akshay Kumar. It shows confidence. Sparx as a brand stands for quality and the can-do spirit.

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