US adventure footwear brand hits Indian market

July 21st, 2008 - 7:57 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 21 (IANS) The Indian footwear market, growing at an estimated 20 percent annually, has just made room for another reputed international brand. The Michigan-based lifestyle footwear giant, Wolverine Worldwide Inc, has launched its niche outdoor brand of shoes, Merrell, in collaboration with M and B Footwear Pvt. Ltd, one of India’s leading distributors and retailers of international footwear brands in the country.

Merrell will add to M and B’s impressive retail and distribution kitty that already boasts of brands such as Lee Cooper, iD, Provogue, Rider, Firangi and Geox.

The outdoor shoe range was launched at a three-day high-altitude adventure camp July 17-20 at Viraat Khai in the Garhwal Himalayas, nearly 500 km from Delhi.

This is the first outdoor activity-based launch of an international footwear brand in India.

The launch, which featured high-adrenaline adventure sports in the upper reaches of the Yamuna river, was aimed at encouraging adventure tourism and fostering a love for outdoor activities among Indians, M and B vice president of marketing and corporate affairs Vikas Bagga told reporters.

“We plan to promote our brands through customers’ group activities and tie up with adventure clubs and outdoor travel communities,” Bagga said.

“Moreover, we also have our own brand platform which can serve as an effective launch tool,” he added.

The company does not intend appointing a brand ambassador for Merrell.

Bagga said the shoe is ideal for hikers, climbers, bikers, runners and even rafters, who need to cope with the natural challenges of hilly terrains and nature trails.

The prices of the inaugural product range comprising 21 brands stretch between Rs.2,985 to Rs.3,985 for sandals, and Rs.3,285 and Rs.6,985 for shoes and boots.

Women’s and kids’ footwear will be launched next year.

M and B plans to increase the number of direct retail stores to 255 by 2010, from 110 now.

Bagga said the company notched a turnover of Rs.1.05 billion in 2007 and aims to rake in Rs.1.7 billion this fiscal.

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