How Franchising Helps this Company to Become a Premium Retailer

Aldo, Charles & Keith, Bath & Body Works, Promod, Beverly Hills Polo Club are some of the major brands under its kitty

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How long have you been associated with Major Brands?

I moved here from Dubai in 2010. With some brands, I have been fully involved from the beginning. Previously, Kamal Kotak and the chairman were also involved.

How do you decide on a brand or a category you want to include under Major Brand’s umbrella?

We don’t look at the past performance of the brand and try to predict whether it will do well in the future. While choosing a brand or a category, we consider everything which people are talking about like cosmetics, footwear, grooming products, fashion etc. The sports category is also doing extremely well in India. Today, people want to look good while they are working out and so, we are trying to find a balance here. Also, we have Bath & Body Works and Inglot under the wellness category, Promod and Beverly Hills Polo Club in fashion and Charles & Keith and Aldo in the footwear.

Are all of these franchise tie-ups?

It doesn’t matter whether they are franchised or licensed as long as the agreement says that the stores will be operated by us. We do retail, ecommerce, shop-in-shop. We have all the rights. Each company has their own way of thinking.

On the other hand, some of our stores are operated by franchisees. Since last year, we have been testing this model. However, we do shop-in-shop format ourselves. All the brands are showcased on our website. Besides, we also supply to online players.

What happens when a brand is unable to live up to your expectations?

Brands keep coming in and going out. We like to look at the future and where they are taking us. However, when you are spending money, you have to decide where you want to put it. What will be its future? What kind of relationship will we share? This is not only about us but all the retailers. 

All the 10 brands under our umbrella are unique in their proposition and can’t be compared. We try to identify the gap in the market and fill it with the perfect brand. For example, in the footwear category, both Charles & Keith and Aldo are positioned differently.

Any new categories and brands you are looking at?

In terms of category, we look for opportunities everywhere - cosmetic, footwear, fashion etc. There are brands that might be at a very nascent stage now, maybe they have 50-100 stores, but their tractions are good. For example, when we started Charles & Keith, they had five-10 stores in Singapore. Today, they have over 300 stores. Initially, Aldo had 100-200 and today, they stand at 2,000-3,000. When you reach 3,000 stores, it is a different ballgame altogether.

We are looking for brands where we can grow with them. And they can grow with us. While speaking about brands, we are not comfortable to share such details. Like we had signed Bath & Body Works a while ago but started talking about it now, once we have identified the location. Right now, the entire focus is on this brand, as first few months are critical. The whole team needs to be aligned. 

What kind of support do you get from the international brands?

International brands are very supportive in terms of training, operations and logistics. They teach you how to sell their products. If we sell they make money, if we don’t, none of us do. Both of us have to be profitable. They share their global best practices and at times, get inspired by what we are doing.

Any local learning they took forward?

Yes, it was the way we do the marketing in a large country like India. Two-three years back, we did a big footwear launch and they replicated that. We had that footwear travel to five different cities. In case of Aldo, we brought a famous artist on board. Photos were put up like in the art galleries. They did the same in their office. 

What are your expansion plans?

We are looking at 500 stores in next three to five years. Also, we are looking at shop-in-shop, online stores like Myntra, and Jabong. We will do all kind of retail since we want to be visible everywhere. Distribution or wholesale is another aspect we are looking at. There are some towns where we will not go to. Online or shop-in-shop formats will take me to those customers.

(This article was first published in the July issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)