Our Bureau

Pune, April 20

GREETING card and gifts manufacturer Archies is hoping that Bollywood mega-movie Waqt, starring Big B, Akshay Kumar and Priyanka Chopra, slated for release on Friday will set off the next craze for collectibles in the form of its latest soft toy, Geri the giraffe.

The giraffe with a beatific smile and twinkling eyes has been developed by Archies exclusively for the movie and plays a major role in effecting a reunion between the estranged father-son (Amitabh-Akshay) duo in the Entertainment One movie.

"We are hoping that the movie and Geri prove to be lucky for each other and there is a win-win situation for both the parties concerned," Mr Vijayant Chhabra, Executive Director, told reporters here at the unveiling of the character, which is expected to set the cash registers ringing for the company.

Archies has launched a range of Geri collectibles including bags, towel hangers, tissue box holders, cushions and pen holders that will be rolled out across its 450-odd outlets in the next few days to coincide with the launch of the movie.

While movie merchandising is in its infancy in the Indian market, it has proved to be a money grosser in the US markets where major studios have made huge profits from movie merchandising, with the recent success stories being that of Spiderman, Shrek and Harry Potter.

"With gifting the done thing these days, we are hoping that Geri catches the fancy of the Indian buyer," says Mr Chhabra.

For the movie itself, the Geri merchandising will mean high visibility with over 500 footfalls on an average at Archies outlets.

Meanwhile, Archies is chalking out an expansion plan to grow from 46 company-owned outlets to a hundred in the next three years. The company will spend an estimated Rs 25 crore to increase the number of its company-owned stores, Mr Chhabra said, adding that 25 of the proposed hundred stores would be in Maharashtra, which is a major market for its products.

"Having our own stores give us better control over the quality of service in the outlets and with 60 per cent of our revenues coming from gifts, it is important that our customers get the right service so that they come back to us," Mr Chhabra said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated April 21, 2005)
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