The brand of ITC, Wills Lifestyle has positioned and established itself as a vibrant fashion brand for the premium consumer. Wills Lifestyle offers a complete lifestyle wardrobe for the premium consumer, incorporating the latest fashion trends, comprising – Wills Classic in work wear, Wills Sport in relaxed wear, Wills Clublife in evening wear, Wills Signature in designer wear categories, Essenza di Wills range of fine fragrances, bath & body care products and fashion accessories for both men and women.
Atul Chand, divisional chief executive, Lifestyle Retail Business Division of ITC Ltd. shares with IndiaRetailing the brand philosophy of Wills Lifestyle at ITC. An Economics Graduate and an MBA, Chand has been with ITC since 1988 having joined in the marketing of its Tobacco Division. He took over as the Chief Executive of the lifestyle retail division in August 2008. Chand has vast experience in the marketing of Lifestyle and FMCG brands in India. Here are the glimpses of the conversation with Chand:
IndiaRetailing (IR): What is the driving philosophy of retail operations at ITC Ltd.?
Atul Chand (AC): “Creating customer value” is the philosophy underneath our brand and retail strategy at Wills Lifestyle. That exclusively means that we offer high quality, premium and fashionable products crafted from superior fabrics with great fits and provide international shopping experience in terms of ambience and service in our retail outlets.
IR: While taking your retail operation forward in the Indian context, what is the biggest learning from the current slowdown?
AC: A combination of a number of initiatives has helped in combating the slowdown. A large focus area in our operational strategies has primarily been retail-activation leading to instant gratification which spurs immediate, rather than deferred, consumer demand. In the very next step, we focused on productivity-enhancement of the stores strategically being driven through incentivisation of store staff. Besides, special attention has been given in visual merchandising, store layouts and customer service to attract and keep customers instore for longer durations. We are also reaching out to new consumer segments to drive in footfalls to our stores.
IR: Your personal vision when it comes to leading your retail team.
AC: The quest to create and communicate value for consumers and image for the brand keep me and my team focused.
IR: Given the two schools of thought that are currently dominating the Indian retail industry — ‘aggressive expansion’ versus ‘slow but steady expansion’ — which has attracted you as your own retail strategy?
AC: Retailing, by its very nature, is dynamic and involves a constant churn. Of late new catchments are emerging and we are eager to capitalise on. While Tier II & Tier III cities pose potential and opportunities to expand, unviable properties need to be closed. Therefore, we are working with the property owners to evolve mutually profitable business models and are keen to take early positions in viable catchments and markets.
IR: Your comment on the expression ‘Powerful Retailer’. According to you, which are the three most ‘powerful retailers’ in the world and why.
AC: The retailer who wins over the Consumer is in fact the most powerful retailer.
According to me, the ones which have made an impact are Neiman Marcus for its high appeal amongst the premium clientele, Nordstrom for great customer service, and Wal-Mart for its operational efficiencies and customer value proposition.