VIP Industries shedding size as trips turn short

Priyanka Pani Mumbai | Updated on March 26, 2014 Published on March 26, 2014

A change in travel patterns among Indians and stiff competition from rivals are forcing luggage-maker VIP Industries to alter its strategy.

The Mumbai-based company, which mostly makes hardtops and big size luggage, is now shifting focus to small cabin size luggage and backpacks. VIP recently launched 46 ranges of backpacks under its ‘Skybags’ brand, which is endorsed by Bollywood actor John Abraham.

Radhika Piramal, Managing Director of VIP, said the company has been trying to understand its consumers better and to launch products that suit their requirements.

Piramal, who took charge at the country’s largest luggage manufacturer in 2010, said she has been trying to shed the image of VIP being a ‘grandfather’s brand’ and make it a more youth-oriented company.

Backpacks and duffel bags are growing faster than hardtops, as Indian consumers are planning shorter budget trips within the country. That’s partly due to holidays getting more expensive as airfares are at an all-time high and train tickets are not easily available, Piramal said.

“The period between 2009 and 2012— before Kingfisher went bankrupt—was the best period for the airline as well as the luggage industry. I think the consumer sentiment is still weak and there is a slowdown in the luggage segment, too. We are also trying to push sales by launching products for daily commute and for working executives, who do not mind carrying backpacks to work,” she added.

The ₹1,000-crore company is targeting a 15 per cent annual growth, ahead of the market’s 12 per cent, for the next five years from this channel itself.

Another reason for VIP’s change in business strategy is the increasing popularity of international brand Samsonite and the entry of several domestic players such as Fasttrack, Wildcraft, Duckback into the backpack segment.

Published on March 26, 2014
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