New Delhi, Oct 28 (IANS) It has completed a decade of operation and, with the market looking up, Wills Lifestyle plans to expand in a big way by opening 100 new stores in the next three years and concentrating on online buyers.
'We wanted to attain this figure long back. But due to bad market conditions, the construction of malls in various cities came to a halt and so did our plans to open stores,' said Atul Chand, chief executive of ITC's lifestyle retail business division.
'Now the market condition is improving and construction of those malls has started again,' Chand told IANS in an interview.
'Also, we have managed to negotiate with the rent and have brought it down by 30 percent,' he added.
Wills has 50 stores in 30 cities, and Chand said in the next phase the company would focus on tier-two cities and open two stores every month for the next six months in cities such as Nashik, Nagpur and Jaipur.
'The growth rate in these cities is higher compared to any metros because they are already very saturated. In small cities, people are very keen to buy fashionable clothes but don't know where to get these from,' he said.
'So most of them go to the nearest metropolitan city to buy latest fashion material. Hence we are opening in their own cities so that they don't have to go anywhere. The whole idea is to target smaller cities and grow globally.'
Chand said the company foresaw a growth rate of 10 percent in the coming quarter. 'Sales have definitely improved compared to last year. The way people shopped during this festival season shows optimism in their purchasing power. With this optimistic atmosphere, we are sure to have a growth rate of 10 percent in the coming quarter.'
The brand's products will also be made available at ITC hotels across the country soon.
Wills Lifestyle is one of the main sponsors of the Fashion Design Council of India's mega fashion event -- Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WIFW) and retails the outfits of the grand finale designers.
'This tie-up has helped our business to grow by 15 percent. People want to wear designer clothes and we are providing these from top-notch designers like Rohit Bal, Ashish and Rana Gill among others at reasonable prices; so they don't mind spending the amount,' said Chand.
Apart from this, the company is also focussing on promoting the brand through social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to get more visibility and better presence.
'We understand the importance of online shopping portals. It's not just the social networking sites. People are buying a lot of stuff online; so why not our clothes?
'Right now people can buy our clothes online from some shopping portals but we are aiming to have our own e-shop in the next few years. The whole idea is to make people comfortable in online shopping,' he added.
'It's important to know what product one should put on the Net. Not every garment can attract people online. Also, there should be good exchange policies and better communication with customers. Once they trust you and their online shopping experience, they will log in again.'
(Shilpa Raina can be contacted at [email protected])