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Blackberrys on a Journey to Reclaim its Fame in India’s Competitive Retail Landscape

by Tanya Krishna

19-December-2018  |  8 mins read

Ramesh Kaushik, Vice President - Brand Experience, Blackberrys
Ramesh Kaushik, Vice President – Brand Experience, Blackberrys

Keeping pace with the trends in the international retail scenario, the retail sector in India is witnessing a strong inclination towards fast fashion. Complying with this, the retail brands are replenishing their collections in their stores several times a year in order to make the customers visit the stores very frequently. Blackberrys, a fashion connoisseur for men, has understood this quite well. Ramesh Kaushik, Vice President – Brand Experience, Blackberrys, asserts, “In today’s competitive landscape, staying relevant is a big challenge. As a result, the 27-year-old company decided to revamp its brand identity this year in April from a formalwear brand to a one-stop shop for total wardrobe solutions, hence, aiming to receive more loyalists.” Furthermore, with the market size of menswear in India slated to reach Rs. 2,95,795 crore by 2026 and the simultaneous increase in the number of brands catering to the segment, revamping an already established name in the sector seems like the best move forward.

Not So Formal, Afterall

Blackberrys has been known to be a niche brand with its formal linen garments for a very selective audience. But was it enough for the brand to remain the preferred choice of India’s progressive men till the last? Certainly not in today’s context. And that’s when Blackberrys underwent a significant transformation and introduced to the country the three distinct brands – Blackberrys, Blackberrys Casual and Urban Blackberrys. As a result, today, the brand stands as a one-stop shop for formal, casual and hipster fashionwear with products ranging from khakis, shirts, denims, t-shirts to innerwear, shoes and accessories for men.

Urban Blackberrys store
Urban Blackberrys store

For a long period of time, Blackberrys has had constant target customers who are in the age group of 25-35 years, but the introduction of these sub-brands has turned the tables around for the brand. Blackberrys Casual and Urban Blackberrys are helping the brand attract the younger audience, that is, men from 18 years onwards, thereby improving the brand appeal considerably. However, Kaushik asserts, “At Blackberrys, formalwear covers around 50-55 per cent of the total product assortment, casual is 25-30 per cent, denims account for 10-15 per cent and the balance is for accessories and footwear.” The brand, in its endeavour to get closer to its customers, is continuously reinventing its brand image in a bid to reflect its identity that will strike a chord with today’s progressive cosmopolitan men. Credited with many firsts in the country, the brand has pioneered the impeccable fits, introduced wrinkle-free khakis, dress line trousers and has been certified for the ‘whitest shirt in India’.

Delving into the Details

Along with shifting from its quintessential older, formal look, the luxury fashion brand has always stood for innovation. Blackberrys has gone an extra mile to ensure that each of its brands offers quality products inspired by the looks of various genres, lifestyles, personalities and outlooks of today’s men. Owing to the brand’s commitment, majority of manufacturing at Blackberrys is done at its own ‘state-of-the-art manufacturing unit’ in Gurgaon. Kaushik affirms, “Our manufacturing unit (comprising of technologically savvy imported machineries) typically takes care of the formal and the casual segment including suits, shirts, trousers, khakis, shorts, etc. We ensure that the collection is transported from the factory to the consumer touchpoint or the retail counter at least 3-4 weeks ahead of the beginning of the season. However, denims and PU jackets are outsourced from carefully selected manufacturers across India as well as overseas.”

Going casual all the way

Blackberrys prides itself in doing a merchandise mix on the basis of regional preferences. While typically, there are two seasonal collections – Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter, Blackberrys even extends beyond by offering two or more collections per season. “We break each season in what we call as ‘Hit-1’ and ‘Hit-2’ which evolve as the season progresses and subsequently, we keep on adding more elements to our collections. At Blackberrys, we go according to the flavour of the season for our collections,” maintains Kaushik.

An Expansive Reach

Essentially an India-centric brand, Blackberrys has made its presence felt in more than 320 cities with 1,000 retail stores out of which more than 180 are company-owned stores, nearly 65-70 are franchise stores, more than 195 are large formats including Central, Pantaloons, etc. and more than 650 are multi-brand outlets.

While in case of EBOs, metro cities remain the first preference for Blackberrys, Tier-2 and Tier-3 towns have also proved to be a good potential market for the brand which it believes has ‘a large untapped latent demand’ from consumers who are conscious of quality, fashion, style and look. As Kaushik aptly informs, “Blackberrys has a mix market presence in India through multiple channels. In Tier-2 and Tier-3 areas, we mostly have counters in multi-brand outlets. If we look at franchise-owned-company-operated (FOCO) and franchise-owned-franchise-operated (FOFO) segments, our presence is equally split between Tier-1, Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities.”

Moving Forward…

With such intense rebranding and portfolio expansion, Blackberrys is growing at a CAGR of 17-25 per cent over the last 3-5 years. “We closed this year (FY‘17-18) at Rs. 900 crore turnover and are eyeing for Rs. 1,100 crore revenue in the next fiscal,”prides Kaushik.

In terms of retail expansion, Blackberrys is planning to open 100 new stores in India this year, wherein 35 will be company owned and the remaining 65 would be franchise operated. Also, moving forward, Blackberrys is planning to focus on South India market with all its three brands, for which the company has already created logistics infrastructure, thereby facilitating its growth plans in the region.

While Blackberrys has got its claim to fame over a period of time and is trying to retain as well as improvise on things like identity, quality, innovation, the country’s retail industry is yet to see if the brand’s goals – developing brand affinity and more ROI with a revenue aspect – are achieved as targeted.