Smiley, one of the most recognised icons in the world and an iconic global and lifestyle fashion brand, has entered into an exclusive licensing agreement with SSIPL for Smiley footwear in the country.
Smiley was founded in 1972 when a French journalist, Franklin Loufrani trademarked the symbol and licensed it to major European newspapers as part of a promotion to highlight good news. Over the years Smiley, the brand head quartered in London has gone on
to become an iconic global phenomena. Generations of people have embraced Smiley products as a symbol of happiness. SSIPL, a fashion and lifestyle retail company with a forte in footwear, was constituted in the year 1994. An exclusive licensee for Smiley footwear, the company based out of New Delhi is also associated with leading international brands such as Nike, Levi’s, Puma, Lotto, United Colors of Benetton, Clarks and Smiley. SSIPL has established itself as the largest retail partner for Nike, operating 230-plus Nike only stores. Additionally it is the largest MSF for Levi’s and also the exclusive retail partner for Lotto in India.
The company has established their own premium multi-brand footwear store concept, Shoetree, and also launched their homegrown Indian authentic sportswear brand — Mmojah. Today, SSIPL has a pan India company which currently has a retail network of 440-plus stores across 99 cities. Atul Madan, President, SSIPL, speaks on the company’s strategy for its new venture with Smiley in India.
Excerpts from the interview
How many licensee partners do Smiley have worldwide and what has been the reason for choosing India?
Atul Madan (AM): Smiley has over 230 licensee partners worldwide, 50 of those are within the UK itself. India has been a growing fashion market with a multitude of brands having entered the Indian market within the last decade. Smiley wanted to tap the potential of the Indian footwear market in particular and SSIPL is a pioneer in the footwear segment, hence, the decision for both parties to enter into a long term footwear
licensing agreement was a very natural decision.
SSIPL has recently signed a long term license for Smiley – what are the products/ categories which will be available?
AM: SSIPL has signed a long term footwear license with Smiley. Different kinds of
footwear ranging from open styles including sandals and flip flops to sneakers and smart
casual closed styles will feature in the footwear range.
What will be the average price points that you will be launching Smiley footwear at?
AM: The SS’15 line has already been launched and has price points varying from Rs. 399 to Rs. 1,299. Going forward one can expect the price range for open styles to range from Rs. 399 – Rs. 1,299 and closed styles to range from Rs. 799 to Rs. 2,299. The aim is to provide fun, youthful and fashionable footwear at affordable prices.
You must have carried a research before signing in with Smiley? Tell us what has
been the acceptance of brand imagery and popularity of Smiley in Indian context? What are the marketing initiatives that you will be adopting?
AM: Smiley’s popularity is well known worldwide and even within the country where they have been operating within the gifts and souvenirs space through their license agreement with Archies and also in the apparel space through Lifestyle. We will use the multi-channel approach to build this business with a focus on both above-the-line (ATL) and below-the-line (BTL) marketing activities.
How does character licensing connect with the consumer mind? Do you see a change in consumer attitude towards characters?
AM: Character licensing is increasing particularly in the children and young adult segments. Character licensing connects with the consumer as a global icon and hence the perceived value of the product becomes richer in the eyes of the customer. Also given their overall positioning and perception, the stringent quality norms helps in ensuring that one gets a world class product at relevant local pricing.
What would be average size of the business which you would estimate through this
AM: We are in the first year of our licensing agreement and have built a strong product
line to cater to the fashion conscious Indian consumer. The overall size of this category
of business has grown multifold particularly after the advent of e-commerce and we have
aggressive plans both in terms of quantum and market share with this product category.
How are you planning to retail the Smiley products across channels like MBO, LFS
and EBO and online retail? Please share the number and regions which you are targeting?
AM: The prime focus of this business is going to be online retail, however, we will have
some strategic tie-ups with LFR’s and multibrand retailers where our target audience is
Every popular licensee encounters piracy and fakes. How are you planning to combat this with Smiley?
AM: For Smiley itself their footwear business is relatively new and they have just started this through the license route in just about 3-4 countries. It is still not such a large category for Smiley that one needs to be worrying about piracy and fakes, however it will be an interesting situation and a job well done down the road if this becomes a sizeable
problem in the future.
How do you foresee the future of this new business?
AM: The future of this new business looks very promising. We hope to penetrate the Indian market with attractive smiley footwear which will appeal to the end consumer and deliver style coupled with value. We are very excited about this new venture and I hope it expands exponentially in the years to come.