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BW Businessworld

‘The USP Of Longchamp Is Its Versatility’

Radha Kapoor speaks about her foray into the luxury business, the challenges it entails and the lure of the Indian market size in an exclusive interview

Photo Credit : Umesh Goswami

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After partnering with French luxury leather goods brand, Longchamp, Radha Kapoor, founder and director of DOIT Retail Brands, has some big plans lined up for its growth in India. Kapoor speaks about her foray into the luxury business, the challenges it entails and the lure of the Indian market size in an exclusive interview with BW Businessworld’s Ruhail Amin

Why did you decide to enter the luxury sector now? Do you think the luxury sector in India has potential?
We run a holding company called DOIT Creations under which we have set up a subsidiary company called DOIT Retail Brands. We realised that the premium luxury space has great potential in India, given the fast and steady growth of the luxury market over the last few years, especially with the rise of dual income homes, working women etc. According to latest estimates, the Indian luxury market is expected to cross US $ 18.3 billion in 2016, which definitely makes this space a potential business bet.

Why did you select Longchamp?

Longchamp as an international brand has maintained momentum and energy across decades. It epitomizes French elegance and inspires creativity, bringing a touch of luxury into the everyday lives of men and women alike. Their handbags, luggage and accessories are renowned worldwide for their style, craftsmanship and quality, a reputation that now extends to its men’s collections. While certain characteristics of luxury have been preserved by the continuity provided by the family, that has not prevented the company from ‘moving with the times’. Longchamp’s ability to continuously reinvent itself is an integral part of its genetic code,
which was a big attraction for us.

Why did you select Longchamp?
I, alongwith my mother and my sisters, have been Longchamp loyalists for over a decade now. We always wanted to get the brand, which is so dear to us, to the Indian audience. So, we didn’t really have to look around too much before zeroing in on our first brand. Moreover, what really helped is that we shared the same synergy in terms of the vision for the brand as the Cassegrain family, which owns the brand.

How many Longchamp stores are you looking to open over the next three years?

We are looking to open five to six new stores in the next two to three years. We have opened our first store at DLF Emporio in Delhi and Mumbai will have an outlet soon. Apart from these two cities, we are also looking at cities like Bengaluru and Chennai. This will add to the existing 1500 points of sales that Longchamp currently has globally.

A large number of HNIs are now present in non-metros. Will you target the non metros too?
Yes, we are looking at those regions too as the demand for luxury products in those markets is witnessing a steep rise, especially in the Tier-I and Tier-II cities across India. Our focus right now is to consolidate our presence in the major cities and then expand to the non metros.

Many well known global brands are already in India. How will Longchamp crack the market?
I believe that we are currently at a stage where the luxury culture is being developed in India. So, having other brands around only helps attract more customers. I would call Longchamp, ‘Versatile Luxury’. I say that because Longchamp has an extremely wide appeal — in terms of customer age group, usability, and price points. The designs appeal to a diverse age group; you could have a teenage girl as well as a middle-aged lady using the same bag. Longchamp has bags for every occasion — so, internationally, you would see Kate Middleton carry a ‘Le Pliage’ which is our iconic dailywear bag and also Anne Hathway sporting a ‘Penelope Fantaisie’.

In terms of price point as well, there is a wide range; ‘Le Pliage’ series starts from an affordable Rs 8,000 and then we have our other leather bags, which are upto Rs 70,000 and with few limited editions in the range of Rs 1.5 lakh. Our long-term plan is to introduce India inspired Longchamp bags, since Longchamp is known to do a lot of artist and designer collaborations. There are already many French artisans and craftsmen who are coming to learn about India inspired embroideries, the idea is to not just imbibe and be influenced by the West, but also to take India on the global map by creating a special Indian line.

How important is social media/digital advertising for Longchamp?

Though print and television are traditional mediums that one has to depend on, digital definitely will be an important component of our marketing initiative. We plan to leverage the reach of the social/digital media to position Longchamp as the right brand and we will use the most effective strategy to make it happen.

Radha Kapoor is vice chairperson & director of BW Businessworld Media