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A passionate marathoner, adventure sports and travel lover, Vinay A. Bhopatkar, COO, Van Heusen equally enjoys the quest in his professional voyage. With rich 14 years of experience, he has made a mark in apparel retail industry.
Read more about his views on franchising and also few unbeaten tips for entrepreneurs.
Which is more challenging for you, women or men's division?
Van Heusen is a brand with a rich heritage of 128 years in the United States of America and the brand entered India in 1990. Over a period of its 25 years of history in India, Van Heusen has emerged as a fashion authority for the ever evolving Indian professionals becoming the go-to source for the latest in fashion trends as well as for expert advice on what to wear, when to wear it and how to wear it. Today, Van Heusen is not only the most preferred work wear brand, but also effortlessly straddles entire spectrum of occasions like casuals, ceremonial and party wear. Women's category is more challenging for us. Men's segment is simple and straight. Trousers and a shirt but women category is more demanding. We also have exclusive stores for women. It is more complex as a category. We operate via smaller stores due to cost of operations. However, we have also opened a few bigger Company Owned Company Operated (COCO) stores in Thane, Bengaluru etc. I believe this category is still not dominant as men's wear.
Are you also planning for a kids wear range or something?
No. As of now our current focus is on women's wear and also the youth. We have also introduced V Dot jeans for youth.
What are your franchise strategies to expand fast?
In the past one year, we have opened 70-80 per cent of our stores via franchise route. It is a more viable way. We are expanding in tier II and III towns due to increasing purchase power there. Company Owned Franchisee Operated (COFO) and Franchisee Owned Franchisee Operated (FOFO) models are powerful in smaller towns. There is a huge list of towns which we want to tap. It totally depends on what property is available.
Top two tips for franchisees.
= Always understand and research the local market very well.
= Associate with proven brands and stick to it for success.
Is increasing rent a concern?
Increasing rental is an issue everywhere across the retail sector. We don't operate on RoI model, instead we prefer to operate on percentage commission basis. We assist our franchisees in selecting the location too. We make sure the rent is right and location is ideal too. We have brokers who help us finalise the best locations at finest price.
Current stores count and how many are run by franchisees?
We have 276 stores in 120 towns and around 100 of them are run by franchisees.
Investment and area required?
To open a Van Heusen store, a prospective franchisee will need around Rs 50 lakh and an area of 1500 sq ft. plus rental cost. However, the investment cost varies depending upon the store size.