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The Russian brand of children's clothing Choupette has signed a distribution agreement and opening stores in Delhi. The entrepreneur Marina Zolotoverh decided to bring the brand to the Indian market. In an interview, she told us about how she came up with this idea and how she plans to develop the business.


Why did you choose a franchise business? Throughout my career, I have been involved in business development in small start-up companies around the world: Northern Ireland, UK, India, Canada, Brazil, Singapore, Philippines, Thailand, UAE, Turkey and Nigeria. I have long wanted to start my own business - to do what is interesting to me and what there is a need in the market. After the birth of my daughter, I noticed that in India (where I have been living for 8 years) it is difficult to find a children's clothing store, where the price and quality would correspond to each other. There are a lot of brands on the market, but mostly they represent casual clothes. If you want to dress a child in something elegant, then a number of problems arise: either the very high price of collections from local designers and world brands, or the beauty of the products is preserved until the first wash, or the material from which the thing is made is not suitable for children's skin and the local climate.

Why is the Choupette franchise interesting to you? I have known the Choupette brand for over 5 years. I really like the design, the quality, and the price. When I once again bought clothes for my daughter and went to the site, I was interested in the offer of a franchise, and especially that the brand is popular not only in Russia, but also abroad. After getting to know the Choupette team and talking to existing partners, my desire to work with the brand increased. I realized that this is exactly the brand in which I like everything both as a buyer and as a seller.

I'm a beginner in this area, so I really liked how thoroughly the brand approaches new partners and provides full support at the start. I am now actively studying training programs on the Choupette University platform, which are available in three languages ​​- Russian, English and French, which is very convenient for me and my English-speaking team.

How do you assess the clothing market in India? What are his prospects for the next year? Should you go out there with new brands? It is very difficult to predict how the market will behave next year, since this year was very unpredictable. However, I can note that in India, and especially in its northern part, consumers are very interested in new foreign brands: their entry into the market is perceived positively and with interest. This is due to the fact that many residents of the states of Panjab and Delhi have traveled abroad at least once. The older generation can increasingly be seen in Western stores: the recent appearance of brands such as Replay, Uniqlo, Onitsuka Tiger, Ted Baker has received great success with local consumers. Children in everyday life wear exclusively Western brands and wear traditional Indian clothes only for national holidays or weddings.

Are Choupette clothing prices comparable to Indian brands? What audience are you targeting? Prices in the Indian market are very different. Mass market stores such as Gini & Jony, Lilliput, H&M and Gap are the most affordable and affordable. Slightly more expensive items are offered by Chicco, One Friday, UCB kids and Mothercare. Tommy Hilfiger and the Kids Around multibrand are even more expensive. The luxury segment includes Les Petits and local designer boutiques.

We plan to take the price position medium + (medium premium). There are only 2 Tommy Hilfiger (sport / casual) and Kids Around (premium casual - DKNY, Billieblush, Hugo Boss, Karl Lagerfeld) players in this segment, so I'm sure the Choupette collection will be in good demand.

When and where is the launch planned? We are currently working on a website as we first want to launch online sales in India. Since now, due to the pandemic, this is one of the most demanded sales channels. We plan to start with an online store in early December 2020. We plan to open a brand store in the mall in March 2021.

Tell us about your business development plans? The Choupette brand has existed for over 13 years and has taken one of the leading positions in the Russian market. However, in India it is practically unknown, so first, I want to do brand promotion through social media, mainly Instagram and Facebook. Early next year, I plan to open my first retail store in Delhi. I understand that when choosing children's clothing for customers, its quality is very important: you need to come, look and touch the product for an informed purchase, so opening a store is a necessary next step. I want to make the most of my professional ambitions and international experience. Namely, I claim to represent Choupette exclusively in the Indian market through all possible distribution and promotion channels.

Last week, Choupette capsule collection started retailing in Brazilian stores for girls. The capsule is presented in the stores of the Pampili children's footwear brand. According to development manager Sylvanas Silveira, Choupette immediately attracted the attention of visitors, and almost the entire supply is already sold out.

The Russian brand of children's clothing Choupette has been cooperating with the Brazilian footwear manufacturer Pampili since 2019. As part of the collaboration, 4 collections of footwear and accessories for children from 0 to 12 years old were released, characterized by comfort, high quality materials, trendy designs, comfortable insoles and specially designed practical soles.

Choupette brand collections are presented in 11 stores in Brazil in cities such as São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Birigui, Campinas, Ribeiran Preto, Belo Horizonte, Curitiba and Porto Alegre.

Anastasia Vasilkova, development director of TM Choupette, took part in the NR LIVE online conference "Development strategy for the children's goods market in a period of rapid changes". Anastasia spoke live about the investment franchise, the pros and cons of marketplaces, whether consumer behavior has changed and how the pandemic has affected sales.

At the conference, experts touched upon the topic of the “new reality” of consumer behavior. According to Anastasia Vasilkova, digitalization, new technologies and omnichannel appeared several years before the pandemic, and during the period of self-isolation, the retail sector did not change much. Smart consumption trend was revealed mostclearly during quarantine - Anastasia believes that if there are no further tough conditions, it will also develop gently.

If we talk about the demand in the summer months, then August exceeded the brand's expectations, as Like-For-Like amounted to + 18% compared to last year. However, this demand is countervailing as sales were significantly lower in the previous months.

Anastasia also spoke about the investment franchise - a new format that the brand has recently launched.

“Of course, we are not the first to come up with an investment franchise, but in the fashion industry it is almost never used. In our interpretation, it is based on the main postulate: the partner invests and bears the investment risks - and the franchise owner manages the store. However, Choupette's task is not to just take management into their own hands - we want to teach how to manage a store. Over the course of several years, we will develop the necessary skills in our partner through the investment franchise format, and then we will transfer it to an independent mode. This is our perfect vision of the picture. That is why we do not just manage, but advise and offer ready-made solutions, which we discuss with the franchisee and jointly implement. Thus, the partner actively participates in the process. This format has already shown good results during the pandemic and is now continuing to evolve. The advantage of an investment franchise is that it correlates well with market demand: people are willing to invest, but are afraid to manage due to a lack of expertise . Thus, the Choupette brand embodies the dream of all new businessmen - to invest in business, do nothing and receive dividends".

During the conference, such an important topic as marketplaces was touched upon. According to Anastasia, they cannot be ignored, because they increase brand awareness and give good sales. However, the downside is that you cannot control the pricing policy of certain online retailers, for example, Wildberries. Each brand develops its own strategy for mutually beneficial partnerships with such large aggregators.

In conclusion, Anastasia Vasilkova shared her thoughts on what should be paid attention to in the next three years. In her opinion, the channel between the manufacturer and the end consumer is getting shorter, so now it is important to understand consumer behavior and make the most of your knowledge in this direction.

Choupette investment franchise as an anti-crisis format.

How did the idea of ​​creating an investment franchise come about?

Of course, we are not the first to come up with an investment franchise, but in the field of fashion it is almost never used. The idea of ​​developing a new format was born from our experiment - a pilot project for franchise management. We brought in Lynn Irons, an international business consultant, to develop innovative methods for managing development processes. In the process of working, we realized that our franchisees feel lonely in their regions, and if at the beginning of cooperation this inspires them to some extent, then later they feel a lack of communication and daily support. Our central office, of course, renders great assistance: training at Choupette University, merchandiser visits, interactive sessions, assistance from managers and the marketing department. But this support occurs in large blocks - it is often difficult for franchisees to assimilate such a volume of information at a time. Upon successful completion of the first phase of the pilot, we concluded that we had placed too much burden on our partners. In most cases, a franchise is bought by people who have no management experience, and therefore they cannot always correctly organize a business. Having reached this conclusion, we realized that the best support we can provide is the daily adaptation of information directly to the daily issues and problems. Our pilot project gave us not only an idea, but also certain algorithms that we have already tested and brought them out as the basic tools of a new format for managing an investment franchise.

What do we mean by an investment franchise.

An investment franchise is understood differently depending on the industry and country. In our interpretation, it is based on the main postulate: the partner invests and bears the investment risks - and the franchisor manages the store. However, our task is not just to take management into our own hands - we want to teach how to manage a store. For several years, we will develop the necessary skills in our partner through the format of an investment franchise, and then we will transfer it to an independent mode. This is our perfect vision of the picture. That is why we do not just manage, but advise and offer ready-made solutions, which we discuss with the franchisee and jointly implement. Thus, the partner actively participates in the process.

Further development of the project.

For us, an investment franchise is a new format that we have used in one store so far, and it has given good results. I think we will have many such examples. The idea that reads between the lines of any franchise, especially in Russia, is to buy a business, get income, but not be "extreme", and in principle, our new format is just in line with this desire.