How Carlton London is looking to expand its India footprint?

In an exclusive conversation with Kim Virk, Business Head, Carlton London sheds light on brands growth strategy.
We are open to explore franchise distribution in India: Kim Virk

It is been more than a decade and half since the brand is operational  to Indian  market? How would you sum up the journey so far?
Carlton London is a global brand, in existence since 1992. We have been operational in India since 2003 and the journey has been quite exciting for the brand so far. This is an emerging market and it takes a while to adapt; however we have been scaling a steady growth in the market. We are operating in European as well as Asian markets. These two are very different markets, and I would say challenges are much deeper in India as compared to other countries due to large share of unorganized segment in the footwear market. However, in last couple of years the consumers’ behavior has drastically evolved with burgeoning of premium international brands. Consumers have now started putting extra focus on brand value.

 There is a humongous difference between 2003 and 2017? According to you what are the major changes took place in footwear segment during this tenure?
 India is going through a retail revolution due to its growing economy. It is a fast changing retail and now international brands are tapping into the market. Moreover, with the growing economy the purchasing power of consumer has also increased.  There is a cluster of young professionals in India who now look beyond the basics, regardless the occasion.  Now people wish to stand out as per global fashion trends. The fashion element has become very strong compared to past consumers which only looked into basic products.
Among the contemporary brands who do you see as your competition?

 There are many good international brands in the Indian market and we review them all. Some of them have managed to survive, some do not. We tend to follow our own formula.

Carlton London is also known for supplying to various international brands. Kindly shed light on those collaborations?
Carlton is just not a retail brand but also has roots in manufacturing for global brands. We have manufacturing facility located at multiple places across India, China and Brazil. Internationally, we are sup- plying to all major high street brands across the globe.


Kindly shed light on your current footprint in India? Also what are the plans to extend the same?
We have around 50 doors in India and the brand is growing at a steady speed of 30%-40% every year. We are opening new stores at premium malls across India as well as tying up with various leading departmental stores across the country. Apart from this, we have our exclusive online store.
Any plans to foray into franchising model? If yes, what kind of business model the brand would be looking at? 
As of now we only operate through company owned stores and large format retail. However, we have managed a very strong supply chain and been able to reach out to potential investors who want to invest into the brand. We are extremely keen to expand with franchise stores. We are looking for entrepreneurs with retail experience to operate the brand with steady guidelines.

 How many stores you plan to open on this model?
 We do not want to rush into the franchise expansion. We will follow steady approach. We are looking to tap 20%-30% growth every year. For pilot phase, we are looking at metro cities. We plan to open five to ten stores in the first year of development.


Kim Virk