The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Executive class target for US-based leather line

The retail revolution currently sweeping the city is set to get another shot in the ‘accessory’ arm with the entry of the “first branded retail chain of leather goods” next month. LaSalle, a leading name in leather in the US, with “17 per cent market share in imported portfolios”, is making a major foray into Calcutta.

First stop for LaSalle is Shoppers’ Stop, the 60,000-sq. ft anchor in Forum, set to open its doors in February. “We are planning 25 to 30 outlets in Calcutta by the end of the next financial year,” reveals Mukul Sukhani, vice-president, operations, LaSalle Marketing Ltd.

The company did a market survey in Calcutta last August, which revealed a “huge pent-up demand” for trendy branded leather goods. And so, Sukhani is now in town to help set up back-office infrastructure. LaSalle, which launched its India operations in March 2001, already has 65 multi-brand outlets in Delhi, 35 in Mumbai and 30 in the South.

“In Calcutta, we are looking to get into places like AC Market, New Market, Metro Plaza, Vardaan Market and 22, Camac Street, besides the Forum on Elgin Road,” explains Sukhani. Apart from portfolios (the company’s “core strength”), LaSalle is also into personal and desktop accessories, wheelports that double as overnighters, besides soft and semi-soft luggage, suitcases, duffels, uprights, backpacks and school bags.

“We will bring to Calcutta at least 120 different categories of products, all designed in the US,” adds Sukhani. “Worldwide, leather accessories are extremely hip and happening and Calcutta clearly doesn’t want to be left behind. Till now, the products available here are mostly export rejects or pieces stitched from leftover material. LaSalle will bring in international styles,” promises Sukhani.

LaSalle retails from more than 5,000 points in the US, and can be picked up in leading chains like Wal-Mart, Office Max, Staples and Office Depot. It also has “a significant presence” in Italy, the UK, Germany, Japan and Korea.

Targeting mainly the corporate executives in Calcutta “who need to carry a lot of paper to work”, LaSalle products will be priced between Rs 2,000 and 7,000. “We would be happy to hit a turnover of a crore in Calcutta in the next financial year,” says Sukhani.

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