Aiming to bridge the gap between the kids’ apparel markets of Tier I and Tier II cities, Sharad Venkta, MD & CEO – Toonz Retail India Pvt Ltd finds the smaller cities full of opportunities in this segment. In a conversation with Retailer Media, he shared about the brands of Toonz Retail, Omni-channel strategies of the brand and the bottlenecks of licensing.
What new is in process at Toonz retail?
We are in a very exciting phase now-a-days. We are looking at increasing our store count and taking them to around 100 this year. Apart from this, our online strategy is also in progress, where our website will be up within a week and our target is 15th of this month. That would ensure that all our stores would have the products available through our online channel. So, if a customer comes to our store to buy a product, and it is unavailable, then he can place an order through online stores. The consumer will also be given a choice to order from store and get delivered at his place of order, or come to store and take delivery after checking the product.
One need not necessarily buy a product, he can just place the order, come to the offline store, check the product and buy only if they like it. Also, we are very aggressively working on our brands – Wowmom and Superyoung. We are looking for orders from various countries. With regards to brand space, we are also getting into hypercity and we are already in talks with retailers to go ahead with current model so that one can shop for our brand in the largest malls.
What made you come up with these new brands when you were already into retailing?
These barnds are now a couple of years old, in fact, both these brands have a business of 1 million INR. The Wowmom brand caters to the kids up to 3 years and includes accessories and nursery products apart from apparels. Superyoung caters to 3 to 12 years of age group which are largely apparel and accessories.
How do you analyse licensing for kids’ segment in India?
Licensing in kids’ segment is an exciting business, but India is not matured enough right now likely because the licensors who actually do the business right now want to take the money upfront and there is no working partnership model like the US or other matured countries.
In India, the licensors want to make money and move on and retailers end up losing money because they have not been able to promote the brand and the gestation period with the brands is also longer. So, there is a change required before the retailers get comfortable with licensing in India.
What is your opinion about licensing from the perspective of retailers?
We are talking to a couple of people and our relationship with these licensing products is like a relationship model, where we will pay the licensing fee only after the product is sold. If the product is not sold, we share the losses equally. So, this is the model we are working upon.
What all IPs are you eyeing at?
I won’t be able to comment on this as deals are not closed yet. However, we are looking at the real life examples in India and looking at Indian character to go with. We are not at all looking at any foreign character operating in India at this point of time.
If you look at the market share, Chhota Bheem is still far ahead of all global characters put together in India, largely because kids can relate to it very quickly. The international characters generally come with their own culture and behaviour, to which, Indian kids are not accustomed. Though they like those characters but it is just like a flavour for them and they keep moving on.
Other characters have very specific age groups; however, Chhota Bheem correlates to age group from 2 to 12 years.
Which strata of society do you cater to?
Largely, our stores are based in tier II cities, however, we have targets for Tier I markets as well through hypercity kind of model. But from business point of view, we remain focused in Tier II markets. Actually, opportunities are larger in tier II markets, people are willing to spend money and disposable income is high.
Innovations in kids’ apparel segment?
The life-span of kids’ apparel is shorter as compared to the apparels for adults. So, we continue to work on designs that are covered in various sections. For instance, we are working on 3/4th sleeved shirts for boys, a trend which was so far limited to girls’ apparels. We are experimenting a lot with fabric, designs and colours. We are also trying to work on actiwear category for kids, which is limited to adults till now.