Only Schools outlets for school uniforms

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On March 23, the country will see the opening of probably the first exclusive brand outlet of school uniforms, as Kolkata-based KP Garments, primarily an exporter, announces its entry into the business of retail by launching ‘Only Schools’ store at Lansdowne Road, Kolkata.

Spread across 1,000-2,000 square feet, Only Schools will retail school uniforms and stationery only.

Confirming the news to Indiaretailing, Hiren Panchal, director of KP Garments, said: “We have been exporting garments for years. We saw good potential in the school uniforms category as a major chunk of this category is unorganised. We are exploring business possibilities by providing good-quality uniforms at competitive prices, in an organised environment.”

Panchal informed that the company will manufacture uniforms in their own facilities, and will stock stationery of leading domestic and international brands.

When quizzed about the company’s manufacturing capacity, Panchal said: “We can manufacture in abundance. As of now, we are looking at targeting 100 schools, which means around two lakh students, and requirement of over 12 lakh pieces. We are capable of producing these numbers. Hence, the supply will meet the demand.”

Sharing details on the company’s agreement with schools, Panchal said: “We have entered the market a bit late as this is not the uniforms season. However, to start with, we are looking at a tie-up with 10 schools and will have more schools on board as we expand our network.”

Panchal said that the first phase of expansions will include cities in West Bengal. Later, the company will move to other states in the east.

Commenting on the acquisition of real estate, Panchal said, “We are not buying land and will retail from rented space, which is acquired through a broker. Looking at the rentals and broker commissions, this is an expensive affair, but still better than purchasing land.”

Asked the brand’s publicity strategy, Panchal said: “We are advertising through all possible mediums. We are advertising trough print, radio, television and are also active on PR front. Later, we’ll adopt field publicity and other below the line activities.”

According to the India Apparel Report, published in Images Yearbook 2008, out of the total Indian apparel market (Rs 122,400 crore), kidswear including uniforms account for 24.9 per cent (Rs 30,510 crore) market share. Compared to last year’s performance, the kidswear plus uniforms markets have grown faster. The uniforms segment alone has seen a growth of 24.5 per cent in 2006-07, while in 2005-06 it grew by 21.6 per cent.

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