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ALDO to expand to non-metros, open more stores in 2023, says Abhishek Bajpai

In May 2005, ALDO was introduced in India in partnership with Apparel Group India Pvt. Ltd., its first store being launched in Mumbai, Phoenix High Street. Since then, the brand has expanded and is present in all major cities across India today. As an extension to the ALDO brand, ALDO Accessories stores were also launched. The brand recently roped in Bollywood actor Janhvi Kapoor as its ambassador. IMAGESBoF’s N Bobo Meitei interacted with Abhishek Bajpai, CEO of Apparel Group India Pvt. Ltd. to discuss a range of topics. Excerpts from the exclusive chat…

How is ALDO positioned in the Indian market?

ALDO is a premium international footwear brand, known for high fashion, good quality comfort shoes, catering to both genders. We are present in all major malls across India, in every prime location. ALDO currently has 50+ stores at the moment in India, including the ALDO Accessories business. We also retail online through various e-commerce platforms. Having said this, I want to add that we are always growing and looking for new opportunities.

We currently don’t manufacture in India, but at some point this year, we are hoping to do at least one range that is ‘Made in India’, but you have to understand that we don’t control this process fully.

Apparel Group Pvt Ltd is managing many renowned brands in India at the moment. How is ALDO placed in this list?

ALDO was one of the first few brands that Apparel Group started managing way back in 2001. The brand has been a very key focus for the group, and still remains so. Offline stores remain a huge part of our business, but online is growing as fast as our store business and developing into a very strong channel for sales.

Who is your main competition in India?

We want to focus on our customer rather than focusing on the competition. We acknowledge that a lot of brands are doing great work, but we want to keep ourselves trained on what we are doing and not what others are accomplishing.

How seriously do you take sustainability and showing your TG that you care about the planet?

We set our internal targets on how we want to move into this direction. Some things can be done quickly for example moving away from plastic and changing our shopping bags, giving out e-receipts in stores to save paper. This is the small stuff that can be accomplished fast. However, there is a bigger vision in the business towards the planet, sustainability and going green. These are things which will take time to implement. We value these concepts very highly, not just in terms of the planet’s ecosphere but also for our own brand ecosystem, and we are progressing well in that direction.

Moving on to your latest Spring Summer 2023 collection – this is a bold and colourful one. Are your designs influenced by and targeted towards GenZ?

We are all about fashion at the end of the day and we want to cater to every segment of society. Today, fashion age is very different from a person’s actual age. People like to wear colours that are in, styles that are trending and footwear that is stylish, yet comfortable. It’s therefore only right that we have a vibrant collection in our stores and thus the new SS23 collection.

You have roped in Bollywood star Janhvi Kapoor as brand ambassador. What qualities did you see in her when you decided she was the right fit?

Janhvi Kapoor’s young, she’s vibrant, she represents the youth of today. She’s doing some fantastic movies and has a great following – and it’s not just the younger population that loves her work, but a wider audience, spanning age groups. That makes her the perfect fit for our brand – lively and appealing to all age groups and genders. We had a very successful collaboration with her for our Fall-Winter collection last year and we have continued that into Spring-Summer 2023 as well.

What does the year 2023 hold for brand ALDO?

We want to reach out to a much wider audience than we have in the past. We want to make sure the experience at our stores is really at par with the best in the business. We’re working to grow our online business so that people who live in cities / towns that don’t have ALDO stores can access our products. This will continue to remain a focus area for us as we go forward.

At the same time, we are also looking at opportunities to establish more stores and we hope to open many new doors in the next 12 months.

Where will these stores be? Are you also targeting non-metros?

We will be looking at quite a few cities outside the usual metros. We already went into Indore and Dehradun in the last six months and we opened a second store in Lucknow – again a non-metro. We are now looking into other non-metro cities because we have understood that there is a big market out there which can be tapped if we just give the audience the right experience and the right price band. We want to make sure that in the next few years, ALDO has a solid presence in non-metros.

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