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Oct, 01 2007

Franchising in Retailing

WHEN you think jeans the name that instantaneously comes to mind is the Levi`s® brand. Levi Strauss & Co. was founded in 1853 by Bavarian immigrant Levi Strauss. Today it is one of the world`s largest brand-name apparel marketers with sales in more than 1

WHEN you think jeans the name that instantaneously comes to mind is the Levi`s® brand. Levi Strauss & Co. was founded in 1853 by Bavarian immigrant Levi Strauss. Today it is one of the world`s largest brand-name apparel marketers with sales in more than 110 countries. There is no other company with a comparable global presence in the jeans and casual pants markets. It straddles the apparel market with the Levi's®, Dockers® San Francisco and Levi Strauss Signature® brands which cater to virtually every clothing need of the consumer.

This global company employs a staff of approximately 10,000 people worldwide, and is organised into three geographic divisions, Levi Strauss North America (LSNA), based in the San Francisco headquarters, Levi Strauss Europe (LSE), based in Brussels and Asia Pacific Division (APD), based in Singapore.

Generations of people have worn the Levi`s® products as a symbol of freedom and self-expression in the face of adversity, challenge and social change. They forged a new territory called the American West. They were worn in wars for peace. They were sighted at counterculture revolutions. They were also there at the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Reverent, irreverent they stood for something.

Levi Strauss & Co. values are the foundation of the company and define who it is and what sets it apart from the competition. The four core values at the heart of Levi Strauss & Co are Empathy, Originality, Integrity and Courage.

This special relationship between the Levi`s® consumers, values and brands is the foundation of Levi Strauss & Co.'s vision.

People love our clothes and trust our company.

We will market and distribute the most appealing and widely worn apparel brands.

Our products define quality, style and function.

We will clothe the world.

The Indian Journey

Levi Strauss (India) Pvt. Ltd. is a Bangalore based, wholly owned subsidiary of Levi Strauss & Co. (LS&CO.). It was established in 1994 and brought authentic original American jeanswear to India by launching the iconic Levi`s® brand. It has since built a strong retail and distribution network spanning more than 200 cities and 700 doors backed by an equally strong sourcing base. The company, with a staff strength of over 200, is headquartered in Bangalore.

Beyond Business: Levi Strauss & Co. is known not only for its quality apparel but also as a company that conducts business in a responsible manner and for its commitment to philanthropy and community involvement. In India also, LS India has been actively involved in supporting programs that help in the economic empowerment of the youth and women, workers` rights education programs, and programs that promote awareness and understanding of the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Retail initiative

The journey began in 1995 with the first store on Infantry Road in Bangalore.

“Today, the Levi Strauss & Co. retail network spans more than 70 cities and 200 exclusive stores. The cumulative effect is an invigorated brand that is defining jeanswear tastes, and broadening its appeal in the Indian market. The Levi`s® , Dockers® San Francisco and Levi Strauss Signature® products are sold in India through 200 exclusive stores, 65 doors in 6 national chain stores and over 525 multibrand outlets. The largest Levi`s® store in Asia is in Bangalore (Brigade Road) and the largest Dockers® San Francisco store in the world is also here in India. So India is fairly significant in the global plans for Levi Strauss & Co.

Shumone Chatterjee – “We’ve been in this country for the last 12 years and we think we are poised to take advantage of the huge opportunity in India. Over the last 12 years we have built our understanding of the Indian consumer – be it the 15-19 year old youth, be it the new Indian working woman, be it the 25-35 year old Indian globetrotter who wants a global lifestyle. Based on this understanding we have crafted the brands very carefully so that our brands cater to the needs of our key demographic and psychographic segments in this country. “

This year, the Levi`s® brand won the Images Fashion Award for the "Most Admired Jeanswear Brand of the Year" in India for the fourth year in a row. “The Levi’s® brand is the originator of Jeanswear with a heritage of more than 150 years. It is the original choice for millions of consumers across 110 countries, as in India too. The innovation DNA of this brand has driven a strong consumer connect across time and it resonates and drives contemporary youth culture. This is reflected in every aspect of the marketing mix, be it New product development, Retail Experience and Communication”, says Shyam Sukhramani.

Levi Strauss Signature®: A new brand to the Levi Strauss & Co. stable is Levi Strauss Signature® ,a jeanswear brand , with jeans upwards of Rs 699/-. The pilot launch was done in the south in 2006 and the national rollout this autumn winter. Mr. ATP Ramani (Business Head Signature) says “The Levi Strauss Signature® brand in India is being built as a youth brand. It is young, fun, inclusive, college and its affordable. Signature also guarantees the consumer all the quality and style satisfactions that come from LS&CO. Signature will thrill consumers who can shop in its Exclusive stores, multi brand outlets as well as select hypermarkets.”

The Dockers® San Francisco brand in India has gone through a repositioning and a turnaround and is on the path to grow exponentially in the future. The adding of the words San Francisco to the dockers® brand has added the cultural context of that truly global city and enabled the brand to call out its lifestyle positioning.

Shumone Chatterjee “As of now we have 200 exclusive stores across the 3 brands and we are committed to more than doubling our footprint by the end of next year.

We are building our business around controlled retail and in the coming years retail will be the face of each of our brands. LS India will be looking at investing heavily in retail IT infrastructure, a robust retail standard operating procedure, a smooth planning cycle and supply chain. We would be working very closely with our franchisees in every aspect of retail and we aim to become the best single brand retail organization in the country.”

Bhaskar Kelkar (Retail Director) feels that the biggest challenge in the future would be getting the right franchisees who will share our vision and support our growth plans. “We need to work with franchisees to build retail organizations which provides them the ability to replicate the best retailing practices that LS India has developed and manage the career growth for the store managers. The challenge is to partner franchisees who bring in the right mix of investment capability and retail expertise. “

Levi Strauss & Co. today has multiple store formats which are designed to cater to the type of market and geography they are in. Flagship stores are generally over 3000 sft in size and are present in important locations. The Flagship stores bring to life values of our brand and strike a chord with our target consumers. Flagship stores are a continuous source of advertisement for our brands. Premium store is a format to bring out the premium-ness of the brand in major cities. Tier 1 and tier 2 formats cater to the smaller towns in India.

By investing heavily in processes and retail operations, LS India aims to give the Indian consumer a truly international shopping experience. “Buying is becoming increasingly experiential and our endeavor is to provide the best apparel buying experience in India.

“Our stores in India have set the benchmark in both retail environment and customer service and has even been recognized in Global forums (World Retail Congress)” adds Bhaskar Kelkar.

Future: Shumone Chatterjee states “We are committed to building a large profitable future with our partners, partners who are

(a) passionate about retail, (b)who believe in our brands and (c)who are with us for the long term.

To be a part of success and become a franchisee, write to roohi@franchiseindia.com

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