Brainchild of two young entrepreneurs, Abhishek Chopra and Sagar Sarin Churchill Shoes comes from the finest design studio in North Hampton England and are crafted with a fine balance and precision of man and machine with the finest imported leather. Churchill has a trademarked technology ‘softherapy’ which delivers a softer foot strike to the ground devoid of any stiffness. Churchill is classic style designed softly.In an exclusive conversation with founders more insights of the brand was shared..
What were the gaps in the present footwear market which inspires you to launch Churchill & Company? Kindly shed light on your entrepreneurial journey?
5 years ago, we decided to quit the corporate life so that we could embark on an entrepreneurship journey which revolved around the inanimate object which we have always worshipped for its magical powers– dress shoes, we absolutely love the classic style and after having taken the plunge, the venture has been on a roll, we have faced our set of challenges , for us the biggest challenge was product quality and we have converted it into an obsession for which we have spent close to 18 months perfecting the craft - what sets Churchill Shoes apart from the rest is that one shoe undergoes 252 steps to get the right fit, balance, and finesse. A team of more than 75 experienced craftsmen, work to prepare each new collection for Churchill Shoes. Each collection takes more than 2500 hours to design and manufacture.
Tell us about your business model? Is it a bootstrap or you have raised any funds so far?
We have started this business without any external help or capital, we are funding this venture through internal cash flows. We have deployed the ‘create-build-expand’ marketing strategy; (not the typical start-up business model of focusing on growth through only customer acquisition and metrics like GMV) we wanted to ensure that we address the core needs and insights of our target audience and establish a credible business model where the emphasis was on product quality, brand building and consumer experience; and having succeeded on that front we are moving in the ‘build’ phase of our venture, it is in this phase that we would look at funds infusion from a strategic partner to build the brand further and expand the distribution geographically.
Indian footwear is market is heavily penetrated with many brands. What makes you confident about offerings to combat the competition?
It was in the wake of major trends for trainers and less formal work clothing that men were looking for a more versatile, comfortable and modern style shoe designs and in walked Churchill!
The Churchill brand addresses the style needs of the modern Indian man, who wants to trod the middle ground between traditional brogues/oxfords and trainers and walk a different beat.
The brand was launched in end 2017 after having gone through a rigorous process of consumer research to fine tune the designs, offerings and after having established the quality standards bench marked against the top global premium brands.
The Churchill brand provides a new, more versatile, comfortable classic walking beat with deconstructed styles and softer finishes with a trademark Softheraphy technology which delivers a softer foot strike to the ground devoid of any stiffness
How strong is your distribution? Do you have physical stores or plan to have?
Churchill & company began active distribution in 2018 and as of today we are available at a very selective MBOs (Multi brand outlets) across North & South India. We hope to triple this number by end of the year.
Besides, we are available at all major online market places like Amazon, Myntra, Flipkart, Tata Cliq and our flagship website Churchillshoes.com offers access to 17000+ pin codes via our logistics partner DHL-Bluedart.
As indicated as part of our marketing strategy, in the expand phase we would look at having a physical store - more on the experience front cum studio in Tier 1 cities
How consumer behaviour has evolved in the footwear category?
With the average per capita income of the country expected to continue rising in the coming years, the middle-class will become more elaborate and diversified, with different levels of income-groups, the luxury end of Indian fashion accessories market is expected to grow at a higher rate than other segments as the affluent consumer group will increasingly consider fashion accessories as a means to reaffirm its identity and to distinguish itself from the masses.
However, the challenges remain in the share and penetration of corporatized retail, better quality and more number of popular designs available to the consumers, however these challenges will be addressed with expansion and increased corporatization.
The major narrative will be the rise of class wear, hiking gear and sportswear in the wardrobes of city dwelling men. Evolution of the accessories market from functional to being a prime attraction and accessories which add style and color to the wardrobe.
At last, kindly highlight your growth plans?
We have clearly laid the roadmap for the Churchill brand whereby it builds a strong connection with its core target audience by harnessing the power of socially savvy brand advocates who are inspired by a shared sense of purpose.
At the moment we have released limited edition line extensions – leather belts and bags which we intend to make a part of our portfolio going forward.
The strategy is to build the core brand and once we build a critical mass among our core target audience over the next 18 months we will have full-fledged line extensions which will support the core product offering.
We aim to maintain the 2X growth we have been seeing year on year and hope to invest into offline distribution expansion backed by the right mix of marketing spends – we will not be splashing money on lavish campaigns but will pick up on relevant themes which strike a chord among our target audience.