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Foot Vesture Marque

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Alok Rai, Director of Milano Impex, Egle & Louis Alberti, spoke to Images Business of Fashion about his business strategy, rolling new expansion plans and fashion retail in India.

How did you start this business and how has been the journey so far?

Our venture was started as a partnership in Russia. We launched Egle in India in year 2003, that time this segment was non-existent. I felt the gap in supply of good, durable and stylish footwear. We received overwhelming response for Egle and then, we launched Louis Alberti, our premium brand in India. Since then we are rolling new styles and trends. The journey has been fantastically eventful with all ups and downs. We started when there were no brands in our competition. Today we witness a new competition every day. We are the ones who introduced loafers and pointed shoes in India. Our designs are inspired by international arena.   

What has been your business and promotional strategy?

Milano Impex Pvt Ltd is the parent brand, selling two brands, Egle and Louis Alberti in its portfolio. Both are well established in the Indian footwear market. Currently we are also present in all CIS countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Uzbekistan et cetra. We are actively involved in promotional strategies like collaborating with MBO’s in target areas like upscale malls and premium markets. We are aggressively involved in online marketing of our brand and promoting our E-commerce portal on various social platforms.

What is the USP of the company?

Our biggest USP is our leather quality, comfort and trend-setting designs. Egle also has one more unique feature, the heal and toe technology that offers unmatched comfort. Each pair of the Egle shoes is crafted with material from internationally certified SATRA companies which prevents the feet from excessive sweating and foul smell. Egle shoes are made by the best leather available of sheep, napa, nubuck and other high quality leather. For the sole purpose tap, leather, renil, resins and crape materials are used. Our designs are at par with global fashion trends.

What are the investments and returns in the business? What is the current growth rate (CAGR) of the company?

In addition to our initial investment, our inventory cost per MBO is approx Rs 5 -30 lakhs depending upon its location and size and inventory cost for franchisee format and EBO is about Rs 50 lakhs. We have smart return on investments. As per the data, the industry is likely to touch the 60 billion dollars (Rs 3,81,960 crores) mark by 2015. We are aiming for 25 per cent CAGR for this financial year.

What is your opinion on fashion retail in India?

The men’s footwear industry is no longer being dominated by dull and boring colours. These days, the trend is being colourful at foot and toe. A wide range of colourful footwear such as loafers, semi-casual, casual shoes, moccasins, sandals, slippers are available in various styles and patterns that goes with the ongoing trends of men’s footwear industry. A rise in spending power has also created demand for high-end footwear labels.

What do you do to promote your brands?

To promote our brands in MBO and EBO we regularly change the varieties and styles as per the season, fresh assortment is must from time to time which is the mix of all kind of product range in the stock. Also, we are promoting our brand through our online portal. 

How do you motivate people in your company?

In retail business, our revenues are directly linked with efficiency of our sales team. To keep them motivated, we follow the old age rule that is to keep our communication channel transparent. We recognise team efforts and throw impromptu get-together. We also try to give them a healthy and stable work environment.

Give us a brief on your business model.

We are practicing a mix of business modles to penetrate better in Indian markets. Our collections are present in MBO’s across India at the leading footwear retail stores viz Metro Shoes, Mochi, Rocia, Inc. 5, Regal, Shoe Tree, D-Shoe Lounge and Studio M.  Our collection is available in around 170 stores across India. We have an EBO in Chandigarh and are planning to open more in the region. In addition to this, we are also available online at our portal www.egleshoes.com

Share your views on luxury retail in India?

Luxury retail is growing but at the slower pace. The demand for luxury products is limited. While international brands are largely dominating the higher end of the spectrum, there are many unorganised players that are competing in this segment. There has been a significant jump in the number of high net worth individuals in India over the past six years, so we are also expecting growth of luxury retail in India

How location of the stores help in generating business? How important is training the staff at the stores?

Location plays a prime role for our sales. We have to choose target customers and marketing place very wisely.Training holds very high importance. We train our ground staff and management once in every three months across India. We lay special emphasis on training our employees for our exclusive outlets. We also train our staff on the upcoming trends.
 
What is the price range of the products?

Our Egle sandals are in the range of Rs 4,000 to Rs 6,500 and the range of shoes starts from Rs. 6, 500 to Rs. 15,000.

Who are your target customers?

The target group is niche, corporate people, high-worth trend-savvy men of all ages.

What was the turnover last year and expected turnover this year?

The target is to reach 25 per cent. The turnover for last fiscal was around Rs 19 crores approx. 

What are your future expansion plans?

We plan to add more MBO’s especially in Tier II and III cities , where demand is picking due to more disposable income and youngster becoming more brand conscious. We intend to expand in other parts of Punjab that is Ludhiana, Jalandhar, and Patiala. We aim at reviving and enhancing the shopping experience of our customers on every visit to the store .We are also looking to expand our footprints in the women’s section in the coming years.