M&B launches Merrell, to expand brand portfolio

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M&B Footwear Pvt. Ltd, one of the leading retailers of international footwear brands, has signed a distribution deal with the US-based footwear major Wolverine Worldwide Inc. to retail the latter’s flagship brand Merrell in India.

Amid a flurry of activities high on adventure, at Virat Khai in the hills of Uttaranchal, Merrell was formally unveiled. For the company, high-adrenaline activities such as rock climbing and rappelling, biking, hiking, and bridge slithering provided the setting for a brand that has always claimed to be ‘high-performance outdoor footwear’.

Announcing the partnership, Inder Dev Singh Musafir, director, M&B Footwear, said: “Merrell’s international appeal, strong pitch, innovative product line and crisp positioning will make the brand popular in the market.”

Apart from being retailed through select outlets of Walk in M&B, the brand will also be available at the Central and Pantaloons stores in cities including Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Gurgaon. The company is also looking to tie up with retail chains that include Shoe Tree, Metro, Regal, INC-5, Shoppers Stop, and Lifestyle. Besides, Merrell exclusive stores are also on the cards.

M&B is also planning to expand its own brands portfolio by introducing new labels in its bouquet.

Speaking to Indiaretailing about the company’s brand building exercises, Vikas Bagga, vice president of marketing and corporate affairs at M&B, said: “We plan to promote our brands through customers’ group activities and for that, we have tied up with adventure clubs and outdoor travel communities. Moreover, we also have our own brand platform, which can serve as an effective launch tool.”

M&B also plans to introduce more international brands in the country. Confirming this, Bagga said, “We are in talks with several international brands and will, probably, introduce them in this fiscal. We are also in process of developing new brands from the house of M&B, and shall launch them this year.”

According to Bagga, the company notched a turnover of Rs 1.05 billion in 2007 and aims to rake in Rs 1.7 billion this fiscal. M&B also plans to increase the number of direct retail stores to 255 by 2010, from 110 now.

The Merrell is priced between Rs 2,985 to Rs 3,985 for sandals, and Rs 3,285 and Rs 6,985 for shoes and boots. The brand is currently available in 127 countries, selling around 13 million pairs per annum.

Merrell also plans to launch exclusive women and kids collections next year.

– Satrajit Sen

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