The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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ITC to launch new garment brand soon

Mumbai, Dec. 1: All eyes in the branded readymade garment industry are now trained on the next moves of ITC Ltd, which is set to unveil its new mid-priced brand.

The new offering is expected to follow “Wills Sport,” the company’s premium relaxed wear brand and the “Classic Collection” range in the premium formal wear segment.

However, it is the forthcoming brand in the mid-priced segment that seems to be the most awaited. Industry analysts expect ITC to pull out all stops to make the offering a major success through a combination of aggressive pricing and a huge ad-spend on the product, which some estimates say could be close to Rs 9 crore.

Speculations are rife that ITC is looking at Bristol and John Player as probable names for the mid-priced product that is likely to take Peter England—the Madura Garments offering—head-on. Details pertaining to product price and narrowing down on the brand name is likely to be done within the next two months, analysts aver.

ITC sources however, maintain that the industry talk about the examining a choice between Bristol and John Player as probable brand names are not correct.

The possibility of an aggressive posture to be adopted by ITC is also giving some anxious moments to a few in the industry. A senior official from a Mumbai-based readymade garment company that has a brand in the mid-priced segment said the cigarette major’s huge distribution network and cash resources could be extremely difficult to match. “Their spending will be huge and this will create an artificial barrier as far as branding cost is concerned. It becomes very difficult for smaller players to match them in such a situation,” he noted.

Even as ITC’s latest move is generating apprehensions in the industry, there are some who are confident they will weather the new launch.

An unfazed Vikram Rao, director, Indian Rayon and Industries (Madura Garments is the company’s division) told The Telegraph, said the company was confident of its Peter England brand retaining its market share on account of the focus on “value and brand equity”.

“We are in the business with a significant amount of core competence, market share and knowledge. Further, Peter England is one of the top 50 brands of the country. Therefore Madura Garments is confident of retaining its clientele,” he added.

Madura Garments posted lower sales volumes that adversely affected its topline during the second quarter of this fiscal. Rao here said that the industry was looking forward to a better performance in this quarter with festival sales.

ITC had launched its lifestyle retailing business division with the Wills Sport range of apparel in 2000 that formed part of the company’s strategically planned initiative to leverage its proven competencies in brand building, hospitality and a large distribution network. It plans to establish Wills Sport as an international quality, premium full range wardrobe brand, constituting relaxed wear for all occasions.

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