"Indian footwear industry 5 yrs behind West in design and style"
Ishaan also talked about how his family business started from Charm shoes to Virola Shoes and then Alberto Torresi. "Virola shoes are generations old company and faced all the ups and downs in the industry they know all the merits and demerits of the industry and so the Dirctor of Alberto Torresi shared his views with us."
Excerpts of the interview...
Would you like to please tell us something about your generations old company "Virola Shoes"?
Ishaan Sachdeva: The group started its journey from a leather trading firm, Charm Shoes domestic company to 1976. The focus shifted from domestic to export. The family business took the form of a Virola Group in 1989. It has then established Virola International as a flagship company primarily an export oriented company in 1989. Virola shoes Pvt Ltd is another vertical which was established in 2007. Alberto Torresi launched in Oct 2010. It was already launched in mid 90s in Europe.
You had started as manufacturer for domestic market and now you are a big manufacturer and exporter, please share your great journey with our readers?
Ishaan Sachdeva: In November,2009 , I joined my father in his business, and took over the fledgling vertical of Virola Shoes, and my team and I transferred it from just a manufacturer to a retailer manufacturer with a distinct competitive advantage. Several new footwear brands were launched by the company and Virola is now a renowned brand even on the global scene. Soon after the business began picking up, we launched our independent premium leather footwear brand by the name of Alberto Torresi for the Indian market. Since the time we ventured into the business, Alberto Torresi has witnessed a repeated growth of 100% every year. The shoe venture, targeted at stylish Indian men between the ages of 16 to 45, started gaining presence in prestigious stores of the country like Lifestyle, Shoppers Stop, Inc5, Regal, etc. With its success, I knew I had been doing something right and this gave me the courage to push my limits even harder. Additionally Alberto Torresi was expended into the Middle East as well.
By 2011 we increased the touch points of the brand to 100 successful stores across the nation besides venturing into mainstream distribution. By March 2013 we have to managed to reach around 600 POS across the nation. In terms of designs and styles, the Indian market was five years behind the West. Blacks, browns, conservative formal styles and a few casual brands make up shelf-space. The shapes were still traditional, and people werenâ€™t ready to change, but now we see India has started to catch up. With Alberto Torresi, to change this and invite greater consumption of younger looking menâ€™s shoes that combines comfort with sophistication. We aim to bring this gap by latest shape, concept, design and leather.
As a manufacturer what were the major problems you had faced during your journey?
Ishaan Sachdeva:1. Retail is the different ball game
2. Stocking system and infrastructure is different in retail
3. Retail space is getting expensive day by day so we facing problem for getting retail space
4. We are basically a manufacturer and exporter so retail market is very tough for us
You had spend a lot of time in industry since 1969, what are the major changes you had noticed? And how you over come those issues?
Ishaan Sachdeva:The journey to the success we now taste hasnâ€™t always been easy. We have had to carefully study markets to strategically tap online stores and newer distribution channels to expand our reach in a crowded market. We also had to be daring enough to break barriers with new colors and fabrics end of 2011 Alberto Torresiâ€™s 15 distributors reached 250 points-of-sale in the unorganized market simply because we believed in what we were doing. I was focusing on the target buyers and their demands, while at the same time tweaking the offerings a little to create a difference in the market. I feel this is key to becoming a market leader: Giving the market what it wants but presenting it with a difference so your brand stands out and consumers come looking for it especially.
You are big exporter also, what sorts of problems you are facing in exports? Also which one is the biggest challenge before leather industry in India?
Ishaan Sachdeva:1. Leather shortage in India
2. Best quality leather we have to import
3. Manufacturing unit are not utilize their full capacity
4. Unskilled labor problem
The economic crisis in the US and the European Union had its impact on the Indian leather industry in a special way as these two markets account for a major share of Indian finished leather and leather products exports. How you see the demand from these two regions now?
Ishaan Sachdeva:It is in the recovery face, defiantly it will take year to reach in old condition, but it is day by day improving
New foreign trade policy is about to come. What are your expectations from the new government?
Ishaan Sachdeva:1. FTA with Europe , it will give great impact
2. Import policy should be easy
3. Also for leather and trim of export should by easy
What do you expect from govt. to help the leather industry?
Ishaan Sachdeva:1. Help in the policy of leather making unit
2. Making policy for unskilled labour.