Brand Turtle: Gathered momentum

21 Jan, 2008, 0301 hrs IST,Vikas Kumar, TNN

It’s a smart strategy for the brand—and it’s all for a good cause. Kolkata-based apparel maker Turtle has engaged with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and The Wildlife Society of Orissa (WSO) to support conservation of a variety of rare turtle species that face extinction in coastal Gujarat and Orissa. The company sets aside Re 1 it makes on each garment it sells towards funding the conservation projects.

“These two organisations were cash-strapped and needed funds for turtle conservation. Turtles get poached or are killed by illegal trawl fishing. So far, we have contributed Rs 8 lakh to these organisations for this cause,” says Amit Ladsaria, director, Turtle Ltd. Turtles like the Olive Ridley, the leatherback and the green turtle, are among those that face the greatest threat. The money, explains Ladsaria, goes towards activities such as research, education and awareness building on the issue, in addition to raids on the trading grounds where these animals are sold.

But while the real thing is in trouble, Turtle, the brand, is eyeing a larger game in the business. For starters, this year’s revenues are expected to be Rs 55 crore this year, up 25% over last year. And it’s just the beginning for this 15-year-old company that started out in Kolkata as a small venture to test the waters in the promising readymade garments business, after Ladsaria’s family business of film distribution began to decline. The first dedicated production facility commenced in 1996, and the company now has five units between Bangalore and Kolkata producing 1.5 million garments annually.

For quite some time, Turtle was present in just four states—Assam, West Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. Now, it has a pan-India presence with 800 outlets in 380 cities, says Ladsaria. Cracking the national market for readymades can be tough, with a host of strong national and regional brands. He says: “Sustenance is very difficult in our business. There are many brands, which have either disappeared or been acquired.” So he’s investing Rs 30 crore in growing Turtle’s retail footprint, with an emphasis on its Turtle World brand stores. By 2010, the company plans to increase its presence in multi-brand outlets by 20% and exclusive outlets to 120 (80 Turtle World stores and 40 shop-in-shops).

Positioning is also the key in a cluttered market, and Ladsaria is taking the firm into more value segments. For instance, the recently launched London Bridge brand addresses the burgeoning sub-Rs 500 mass-market segment. “We call ourselves as mass premium brand now,” he says.

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