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French luxury lifestyle brand Longchamp eyes India's Tier II market

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French luxury lifestyle brand Longchamp is a new entrant in India’s evolving luxury market and has recently set shop in DLF Emporio, New Delhi. Internationally, Longchamp is a well recognised brand with more than 300 exclusive stores worldwide and retailing from another 1,500 points of sale.
In India, DOIT Retail Brands has been appointed as the master franchisee for Longchamp. In an exclusive conversation with Images Retail, Founder & Director DOIT Retail Brands, Radha Kapoor, throws light on how this French luxury major hopes to solidify its footprint in Indian market…
Luxury is a very niche market in India. What was the rationale behind including Longchamp to your portfolio?
The luxury market in India is expanding with growing aspirations and spending power. For us, the idea was to bring good brand to India, and Longchamp already had its clientele here. It took long for us to build the partnership. Furthermore, it is not super high-end luxury. The brand has a very good positioning. It falls between the premium and luxury. The USP of the brand is its unique pricing, so from the customers’ point of view they are buying luxury with a very affordable price tag.
What are the price points for India?
Our iconic range – Le Plige – starts from anywhere between Rs 8,000 to 10,000, and the leather collection starts from Rs 25,000. On an average, all collections are priced up to Rs 65,000.
What is your location strategy for India?
The brand is very particular in terms of choosing its location, and we do understand that we have limited choices when it comes to good infrastructure. As of now, we are only looking at premium shopping centres. While the number of luxury malls in India is numbered, we are hopeful that more luxury shopping centres will come up in metro cities. Our aspiration is to have five to eight stores in the ensuing 18 to 24 months. We shall be very circumspect in selecting locations for our new stores. In the immediate future, we are scouting for a suitable location in Mumbai for our second Indian store.
How many SKUs have you introduced in your Delhi store?
We have introduced 500 SKUs to our Delhi store.
Is the merchandise mix similar to that in international Longchamp outlets? Will there be any merchandise customisation for Indian audiences?
Right now, we are showcasing our Autumn-Winter collection with the classic range, which is featured all year around. But in terms of syncing with Indian tastes, we are being a little experimental in merchandising and collection display. We are in a market testing exercise to get a sense of what is working and what is not. So, we have introduced the entire range, including leather, accessories, make-up pouches and scarves. The footwear range, however, is currently not available in our Delhi store.
Please share some details on the signature Longchamp store environment.
Universally, all stores of Longchamp have a similar look and feel. We have worked as per the international guidelines laid down by the brand. We had to bring in a lot of materials and fixtures from overseas to replicate the signature identity at our Delhi outlet. The 800 sq.ft. store at The Emporio Mall in New Delhi retails Longchamp’s bestselling products like Le Pliage Heritage, Penelope, Roaseau and Le Pliage Cuir bags, along with other accessories.
Who do you see as the brand’s competition?
In terms of competition, the positioning is right in the middle so be it a Louis Vuitton buyer or a Michael Kors customer, they all are potential customers for Longchamp. I don’t see anybody as our direct competition; a lot of consumers who buy products of other brands, such as Gucci or the like, will definitely like to purchase a Longchamp item. Longchamp conveys its own sophistication — a classiness that comes with the brand.
What is your strategy on Omnichannel operations? Would there be an India specific e-commerce platform for Longchamp?
Right now we are focusing on offline retail. We have one global e-commerce platform. As of now, we are more focusing on making the brand familiar among Indian audiences, before we explore other channels of retail.
How are you looking to enhance the portfolio of DOIT Retail brands?
It is too early to quote anything. Yes, we are mulling over few international brands that I cannot name yet.
What is your perception on Tier II market? Can we expect a Longchamp store in comparatively smaller cities in near future?
Definitely that is a plan. We are hardly few months old and already have start getting calls from all from different cities like Jaipur, Goa to our store, seeking enquiry related to our product. There is tremendous untapped potential in Tier II towns. We would be keen to capture it.
Will you sub-franchise Longchamp in India in order to expand the brand presence faster?
No, we are looking to expand only via company operated stores only.

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