We plan to open six experience centres by the next financial year: Ambud Sharma
In an exclusive conversation with Ambud Sharma, Founder & CEO at Ligo Group/ Escaro Royale sheds light on the growth strategy of the brand.BY Shipra Srivastava | December 27, 2017 | comments ( 0 ) |
What was the idea behind launching Escaro Royale? Also, how do you see the market of handcrafted items is growing in India?
I was always keen to introduce newer products to market. I started the venture with a vision to introduce products which are not heard of or seen prominently. Escaro Royale is just not a hand crafted brand, we do hand finishing as well. Typically, maximum hand crafted companies do making process with hand, but finishing is done with machines. Thus, they are unable to impart a true experience of owing an absolute handcrafted product.
Moreover, I have travelled almost every continent of the world and I have seen people taking pride in owing handcrafted shoes. In fact, it is very popular tradition in European and South American countries where people love to own a pair of shoes which can be cherished throughout the generations. Handcrafted is extremely popular art form in first world countries. However, ‘handmade’ is a latest discovery in Indian market and struggling for its acceptance. Hence, it is our mission to replicate the experience in Indian market with unique designs and product innovations, for example, we are the first company in India to introduce matching belt with shoes.
India is a price sensitive market and deeply penetrated with foreign brands especially in footwear category. In such scenario how viable is to introduce an Indian product with steep pricing in overly populated category of footwear?
We were also concerned when we thought of introducing hand crafted and hand finish products. But, Indians are now well travelled; they go on leisure trips to America and European countries. This international exposure is making them aware about what is present in international markets, so their aspirations are also building up. Moreover, there is a lot of content written about handmade products even in India by mainstream media agencies.
No doubt, at the moment, handcrafted industry in India is at nascent stage and even who has the aspiration to buy artisanal tends to go aboard. However, the market is maturing gradually with demand generating from indigenous market. People are opening up to explore Indian market for artisanal products that is reason we have a huge share of repeat customers. Footwear as a product may be available easily, but our kind of product is hard to find. Moreover, metropolitan men have become more cosmopolitan, they are style conscious like never before that too with more disposable income. Though the market for artisanal is small but growing for sure. And, as per my understanding this market will be double by next year. There is no other market which can fulfill the aspirations of metropolitan man.
Kindly shed on your operational product categories? Also how many handcrafted products you are manufacturing on daily basis?
We entered the market with footwear; however, our operational categories include footwear, accessories, and bags. And, we are keen to introduce many more product lines in men’s fashion very shortly. We manufacture five to ten pair of shoes on daily basis. Since we have three factories, we are producing 20-25 products every day. However, the daily count of bags and accessories fall anywhere between 18 to 19.
Do you think MNC brands such as Aldo, Skechers as your competition as these are the brands from metropolitan man is shopping?
No, the reason is very simple because all the big companies such as Aldo forced to keep their freshness alive to survive in competitive market like India. And, most of the cases MNC brands are not operating by their own; typically, they operate with some sort of joint collaboration. By virtue of that, a lot of these products which coming to India have seen at least one season in abroad. MNCs do not introduce fresh pieces to India and their offering is not as per same season either. Unlike to abroad, all the MNC brands tend to do a lot of sale in India because they have to dispose of their old inventory. Moreover, these brands cannot offer personalization, so this is a very different segment altogether.
How do you looking to expand exiting categories?
Footwear is my largest category and our least operational category is mattel accessories such as cufflinks. Going forward, we plan to bring our bag business equal to footwear business. The plan is to make footwear 40% part of the portfolio and 40% to bag and remaining share would be for accessories.
What kind of distribution the brand has right now? And, what are the strategies to scale up the distribution?
Our focus is not on distribution, and we are certainly not looking at any local distributors. We want exclusivity to remain with us along with aspirations. At online, we are moving at 20 units per day, which is very encouraging. We are looking at opening experience centres, these will be not typical high class showrooms. Starting from Delhi, we would be opening experience centres pan India. We would be looking at opening six experience centres by next financial year.
How much investment you are looking to pump-in in your very first experience store?
Each experience centre will cost about 50 lakhs rupees excluding the operational cost.