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    Levi Strauss India to strengthen distribution network

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    Levi Strauss India Pvt Ltd has chalked out a multi-pronged strategy that focuses, among other things, on strengthening its distribution network and rolling out specific programmes for specific consumers, to drive growth in the country in these times of a slowdown.

    Levi Strauss (India), which offers three brands: Levi’s, Dockers and Levi Strauss Signature (LSS), is for the first time associating with a local festival, Poila Baisakh, for its brand Levi’s with actor Raima Sen ‘Unbuttoning Joy’ for the youth of Bengal. “Globally, we have been associated with such festivals as the Chinese New Year, but this is a first in India,” said Levi’s India marketing director Shyam Sukhramani, at a press conference in Kolkata recently.

    “We are looking at specific programmes for specific consumers to build bridges with more people,” said Sukhramani. According to him, the youth of India represents a ‘global crust with local core’ in that they retain their sense of values. Associating with Poila Baisakh celebrations would provide an opportunity to reach out to more of them.

    “It’s our endeavour to create an opportunity in the first half of the year. After testing it out, we can then take it forward to other regions. We are hoping it becomes an important part of our calendar depending on how customers respond to the initiative,” said Sukhramani. According to him, Levi’s is also looking at having local brand ambassadors, like Raima Sen, who drives awareness for a particular region.

    MD told reporters that the company is planning to get stronger on distribution because of softening in some parts. “We want to reach out to atleast 20 per cent more people and upgrade quality and improve customer service. We will also be rolling out a loyalty programme for Levi’s by June,” he said.

    According to him, IT sectors like Hyderabad and Bangalore where disposable incomes of youngsters have been affected, are showing signs of softness. In comparison, Tier I-Tier II cities are growing faster.

    “We have succesfully renegotiated rentals in most of our existing stores and are going in for revenue-sharing arrangements. Every store should be a profit centre,” said Chatterjee.

    Incidentally, the company currently has 230 Levi’s, 16 Dockers and 130 LSS stores. It has closed down 5 Levi’s, 3 LSS and 10 Dockers stores where renegotiations were not fruitful.

    While he refused to disclose specifics, Chatterjee claimed that the company has surpassed projections for this year. In 2008, the company had planned to grow at 50-55 per cent per year over the next three years.

    “Our expansion plans have not changed. But the mad rush to get property is gone,” concluded Chatterjee.

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