UK-based brand Hello Kitty that had a formal launch recently in Bangalore is now focusing on spreading its retail network. The brand has ventured into the Indian market through a license agreement with 21 Fashion Studios. Commenting on the license deal, Muthukumar, CEO, 21 Fashion Studios says, “We did our autumn/winter ’12 collection in April, which was the official launch of our company in India. We developed some 350 styles, which was showcased at the launch in Bangalore. The products will be available by autumn/winter ’12. We are starting with apparels and in the next three to four months we will also be getting into categories like hair accessories, fashion jewelry and sunglasses. I find our competitors in India don’t have our range.”
21 Fashion Studio has taken a license for the brand in certain categories. In Japan, Hello Kitty initially started with its own stores and distributed a lot of gifting and impulse items. Then the licensing division started. There are two licensing divisions. One in Germany and the other is in the US. They gradually ventured into products that cover all aspects of a girl’s lifestyle.
Elaborating on Hello Kitty’s reach, Muthukumar says, “In India, we have taken Hello Kitty license for categories like apparel, accessories, health and beauty, furniture, food and beverages and footwear. We may also bring in stationery and back to school products.” The brand has a worldwide reach, in Europe most retailers have a range of Hello Kitty. Similarly in the Far East it’s a very strong brand. In the US, a fashionable brand like Forever 21 that caters to teens and women has only one brand other than its private label and that’s Hello Kitty. In Dubai, Hello Kitty has a spa and some airlines carry Hello Kitty branding.”
In India, the company will start with children’s wear and then go on to teens and women’s category. Apart from adding women’s line from spring/summer ’13, it also wants to add lingerie under the Hello Kitty brand. For retailing the product in India, the rights are with Hello Retail India. They have already opened one store and plan to add four to five more this year. The bulk of sales are expected to come through distributors. Since winter is more dominant in the north, the company is targeting the northern states. Muthukumar says, “Initially, we will look at Delhi, Punjab and Bangalore in the south. I have order enquiries from UP, Lucknow, Mumbai but the bulk of the autumn/winter range will be showcased in the north -- Delhi, Punjab and Chandigarh. I have one distributor for each of these states. I have covered the north, UP, Northeast, Mumbai, Gujarat. We are targeting 400 MBOs. But in the first season I may go to some 150 MBOs and by spring/summer ’13, I may reach the target. With large formats we are targeting Lifestyle, Shoppers Stop, Central, Mom & Me and Westside.”