How Woodland Went From Being The First Hand-Stitched Leather Shoe In India In 1992 To Changing With The Times

From exporting leather goods to International markets to entering India in 1992 with its hand-stitched leather shoes, Woodland has travelled a long way. In the entire process, India became the brand's biggest market and contributes to about 80 % of the group revenues.

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From exporting leather goods to International markets to entering India in 1992 with its hand-stitched leather shoes, Woodland has travelled a long way. In the entire process, India became the brand's biggest market and contributes to about 80 % of the group revenues. The brand Woodland was born in Quebec, Canada, in the 1980s when the company was majorly into exports and specialized in winter boots for Canada and Russia.

With a few facilities in India as well as Canada in 80s, the group now has over 20 facilities with specialization in product categories and exports to over 50 countries along with supplying to the biggest retail chains of over 600 stores evenly spread in India and a very strong online presence. The brand has a significant presence across the globe with its offices in India, Moscow, Dubai and Hong Kong.

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But how did they manage to enter India and carve a place for themselves, establishing a brand with great recall value? Harkirat Singh, Managing Director, Aero Club (The Maker of Woodland & Woods) sheds light on this. "Entry into India at that time was a little tedious since it was largely an unorganized market but we were fortunate enough to be a part of the retail revolution that started then only with globalization. Over the last few decades of its presence in India, the brand has very strongly positioned itself as the pioneering leader in outdoor gears and offers a wide variety of footwear, apparels as well as accessories," explains Harkirat.

Woodlands launched its first two exclusive brand outlets in Delhi's Connaught Place and South Extension. Currently, they have over 600 exclusive brand outlets across the country along with shelf space in 5,500 multi-brand outlets. Constantly changing with the times, Woodland simultaneously ensured that it carries forward a sustainable business, with it continuously achieving 15% year-on-year growth every year.

With Woodland-Innovation-Lab also known as W-I-L, the company moved from only exporting leather shoes to Russia to having moved into various manufacturers of different shoes, sportswear, and apparel and recently tied up with Polartec. Polartec is essentially the manufacturer of fleece that is extremely hydrophobic and is capable of holding less than 1% of its weight in water. "Polartec fabric is primarily used in apparel though we are also working on using it in specialized footwear. Originally, it was popularized as an alternative to fleece jackets. However, now Polartec is used in sweaters, sweatpants, shirts, hats, and a variety of other outerwear applications," says Harkitrat. Together with Polartec, Woodland is into the production of waterproof fabrics that are commonly used in rain shells, gloves, shoes, and other applications in which water resistance is desirable.

With new players entering the market in quick succession it would be interesting to see how Woodlands and other legacy brands hold their ground in India and continuously adapt with the changing times. The beneficiary, in both cases, is the consumer, who shall be spoilt for choice and in a highly competitive market which keeps vying for their attention with attractive deals and newer products.