Bangalore: Six years after re-launching Woods footwear in India, Woodland Shoes is opening exclusive boutique stores for the brand as it looks to tap increasing demand for women’s footwear.
Woodland, owned by the Aero Group, plans to launch 50 Woods stores in the current financial year, managing director Harkirat Singh said in an interview. The company will invest Rs.75-100 crore in opening the stores, which will have an average size of 1,000 sq. ft.
Earlier, the company only ran its flagship Woodland stores, where it also stocked Woods products.
Woods, a fashion label, was launched in India in the late 1990s but soon withdrawn. The company re-launched the brand, which gets 70% of its sales from women customers, in 2007. The Woodland brand, an outdoor and adventure gear label, gets 70% of its business from men’s footwear and apparel.
“Woodland being an outdoor, adventure brand is focused on men’s shoes and is a masculine brand. We don’t do fashion in Woodland but there is a big market for fashion. Women are looking for high fashion shoes and are willing to spend. Woods altogether caters to that market,” Singh said.
Woodland is one of India’s largest footwear retailers along with Bata India Ltd, Metro Shoes and Liberty Shoes Ltd. The footwear industry is growing at an annual average of about 15% and will likely be valued at Rs.38,700 crore by 2015, according to a 2012 report by industry group Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India. The report said men’s footwear accounted for about 55% of the market and women’s footwear comprised about 30%.
“Demand for branded women’s footwear is increasing at a faster clip than in the past. And especially at the high end it is healthy compared with other parts of the fashion market,” said Abhishek Malhotra, a partner with consultancy Booz and Co. “Footwear in general is an attractive market. Even if you look at players such as Nike and Adidas, they are putting in lots of efforts to grow here and you see a lot of their global launches coming to India pretty quickly,” he said.
Singh said Woodland Shoes reported sales of Rs.850 crore for the year ended March, out of which 20% came from the Woods label.
“We’ll see the response to the stores this year and then decide on the rate of expansion for coming years. But it’ll definitely grow. We’re also planning to launch apparel under the brand in September. After two to three years, Woods may account for close to 40% of our business,” Singh said.
Woodland expects sales to increase roughly 30% this year, Singh said. Same-store sales, or sales at stores open for at least a year, would increase 10-15%, and the rest of the growth would come from new stores, he said.
Apart from the 50 Woods stores, the company plans to open 60-70 Woodland stores at an investment of roughly Rs.150 crore, Singh said. Woodland funds its expansion through a mix of accrued profits and borrowed money, he said.