Interview with Harkirat Singh

Face2Face
Harkirat Singh
Harkirat Singh
Managing Director
Woodland
Woodland

The brand is always a perception and the main focus is on the product...

Harkirat Singh is the Managing Director of Woodland Worldwide, an outdoor brand by Aero Group. He shares his words of wisdom with Fibre2fashion Correspondent Manushi Gandhi. Synopsis: Woodland has established itself as renowned outdoor brand that started its operations in India in 1992. Currently, Woodland runs a network of 380 exclusive stores worldwide. It has also undertaken many CSR activities to encourage youth to have an environment friendly approach. The brand already exists in many markets across the world and now is all set to be launched in Australia. Mr. Singh graduated from University of Delhi and went to Russian State University of Trade and Economics. Later, he went to Harvard Business School for Executive Education. Mr. Singh's acute perception of the market trends has assisted him to sustain the volume of business even in times of downturns in the market, period of recession, keeping the brand on top, ahead of all competition. Excerpts:

Tell us about your journey as a businessman.

We started from Quebec in Canada and came to India in early 90’s. That was the time when the retail sector in India was not very organized. During the initial stage we did a lot of research on consumer preferences and studied the market we planned to enter. Being a new brand, we decided to retail through retailers like Bata and Carona, and today we have our chain of retail stores spread across the world. We were keen to associate with retailers who were willing to experiment with completely new category- 'Outdoor & adventure’. The only reliability with us was the quality of products we had to offer.

What prospects do you see in the global luxury apparel market?

The market in India is very virgin. Certain markets like USA, Europe are having recessionary effect and are quite saturated market for the luxury apparels, but the developing countries have got a lot to give. The growth in US is not increasing and is very stable. The developed countries are looking at the growth of countries like India, China and Middle East. These countries have a good demand in luxury segment. There is a lot of action in the developing markets.

The ups and down in China’s textile sector/economy have an impact on the other countries. Please present your views on this statement.

China has always been a robust manufacturing nation, so it does have an impact on other nations. There are lot of organizations and brands, which are totally dependant on China as their sourcing partner. As its economy is becoming more open, with less of controls, for example the recent increase in labour cost etc. will definitely increase the price of goods that are dependant on it. The nation is considered as good destination for sourcing of raw materials.

What has been a major achievement of woodland in online retailing?

According to our observation, there is an increase in online selling of lifestyle products like shoes, apparels etc. People are gradually moving to online shopping rather than going to stores to experience the product. Customers don’t have so much time, nowadays, to go to the crowded market and malls. We have got a good response for this on our own website as well as our partners in online retailing. The actual sales of Woodland through Internet shopping are still very minute when compared to showroom sales. Both of them will remain parallel in working and cannot replace each other.
Published on: 20/03/2013

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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