Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd. (BCCL), one of India’s leading multimedia groups has announced a strategic licensing agreement with India’s leading fashion retailer Shoppers Stop to extend one of its flagship brands Femina into the consumer products space. Following the ‘co-create and co-own’ model, this partnership will let both the conglomerates to design, develop, and retail the brand, exclusively across Shoppers Stop stores, in the core fashion categories – apparel, footwear, accessories and bags. In a tête-à-tête with License India, Sandeep Dahiya, Director & Business Head – Brand Extension, BCCL shared his intent to choose Shoppers Stop as an ideal partner. With this strategic partnership, BCCL is undoubtedly looking to redefine fashion for the modern women who is fashion forward and chic, yet knows to set own rules. Between AND and Vero Moda, is where BCCL has positioned the ‘Femina FLAUNT’ range which will be retailed exclusively dedicated shop-in-shop space, within Shoppers Stop stores.
How do you analyse the evolving brand licensing industry in India?
I find it exciting because it is new, less than 10 years old and very nascent. Though there are fewer rules, but the good part is breaking the rules and creating new ones. And one hasn’t seen new frontiers, new formats, new ways of think in last 10 years. It has always been multinational players’ driven content like Disney, Cartoon Network, Viacom 18. Plus, the organised retail is expanding a lot in India and that is what is making a difference. More and more people are getting into licensing, a lot of brands are entering India and slowly a lot of layers are emerging in licensing. Earlier it used to be just the kids’ licensing or apparel licensing where Arvind has taken license for Arrow or Van Heusen. In developed western markets exist a lot of layers like celebrity licensing, sports licensing, Real Estate licensing and licensing programs for Route 66, Hard Rock Cafe, Planet Hollywood etc. which is now emerging in India. We are getting more characters coming in, we are getting more companies waking up, people are getting more professional now, and most importantly they are thinking out of the box now.
Why do you think Shoppers Stop is an ideal partner for Flaunt Femina range?
We have couple of brands including Miss India, Miss Diva, Femina, Filmfare. Femina clearly lives for 25 to 40 year old woman residing in top 25 cities, with a modern progressive thinking who is working, entrepreneur or socially active. For Femina, we were looking for someone who understands the women on basis of what she shops, what she needs, what are her style and fashion needs in terms of quality, pricing. We look for three things - stability with partner, sustainability in business as getting a deal is easy, but sustaining it is a challenge; and capability to carry the brand. Shopper Stop fitted into that bill. They have got expertise and manufacturing sources, which can unlock the hidden value of a brand like Femina.
How have you zeroed upon the look and feel of FLAUNT Femina collection?
Enough research has been done to find out the core of the brand Femina, brand values, target consumer, what is her attitude, her profession etc, the brands that she is surrounded with – Sony, Vero Moda, Chambor, ONLY etc. So, the range that we are going to develop is bold but balanced, fashion forward yet classic, gentle glamorous street wear but neat. We have a list of Do’s and don’ts. With shopper stop, we are launching four categories in fashion lifestyle space viz. apparel, accessories, handbags and footwear. We want the brand to stand for comprehensive lifestyle image. We were looking for ‘can we give this woman a complete look from head to toe.’ Initially we will come up with 20 A grade stores with Shoppers Stop across top eight cities, and it will probably go up to 50 by seventh season. Another reason for tying up with Shoppers Stop was that we did not want the product to be just sold but want it to be sold from an environment that suits the brand. There will be a shop-in-shop format within the store, where the entire collection will come together.
So, BCCL will be closely working with SS for implementation…
Absolutely! There are dedicated teams on both sides working as the designers, merchandisers, floor managers.
What will be the price points like and who will the decision maker in this case?
The partnership which we have is SS is more like a hybrid partnership. It’s like, while we are licensing at one end, we are operating from the table jointly. All the calls like brand positioning, how will it be roped in, price points etc. will be taken together. Right now if we look at the average price-points, it is around Rs 1,500 with tops starting from Rs 800 to Rs 4,500. The collection will be out this fall winter, by mid of October.
Is eCommerce a part of your future plans?
Initially we started looking out for all large format stores like Shoppers Stop, Pantaloons, Lifestyle etc to seek if we can work together. Having closed one brand for core category, now we are looking for a brand like Miss Diva and Miss India. Over next couple of month, we will close one of them in core categories like we have done for FEMINA, which could also be only online deal as Miss Diva is for younger audiences, if we have a good alignment with some online player.
What is your take on challenges faced by multi-national companies while practicing licensing in India?
The MNCs have done same business in other markets including US, Europe, South Asia, where around 93 per cent markets are organised. Now when they come in India, here major segment of market is unorganised, industry is nascent, so the same rules are not applicable or need not apply here. To explore any category, licensor need to think out of the box. In my opinion, the biggest challenge for MNCs practicing licensing in India is to UNLEARN. To unlearn everything and then being fresh is indeed a challenge.
At times retailers aren’t aware of their illegal practices. Do you think government should rope in some changes to support licensing and curb ill practices?
It should, and it would. As the industry expands, there comes a lot of pressure on government from authorities and supporting bodies to regulate the industry. Similar happened with television, which was regulated because so many channels came in. Today there are not many concerns about the industry, but again this varies from case to case. It hurts knowing what happens to brands like Louis Vuittion, Channel due to counterfeits. The other aspect is kids’ licensing where we have Dora and Mickey Mouse etc on products which are retailed by two kinds of people – one who are unaware that they are copying a design that they are not supposed to; second who know it and still do it. I think, there is a different way for both of them. Once information reach to the people who are not aware, they would stop doing it. In case of second ones, licensors need to work closely with the law. Some work has already been done by the likes of Disney towards same direction.
Which of these segments is most hit by counterfeit?
If you look at entire spectrum, kids’ licensing is towards the lower end of it, the price points are lower and it’s easy to replicate. They are all made in China and it’s easy to import them. In luxury segments, the margins are high even if you sell lesser products. Has one heard of counterfeit in Levis, Vero Moda, Forever 21 or Zara? No, because these brands are changing faster, they are fast fashion. They are in middle of the spectrum and are mass reach brands.
What are your strategies to keep a check on counterfeit?
I don’t think we were affected by counterfeits at all, reason being our brands are neither at the lowest end of spectrum, nor at the highest. One the businesses gain momentum and we scale up the processes, it might become a challenge that time.