Woodland to step out of partnership model

Abhishek Law Kolkata | Updated on January 09, 2018

Harkirat Singh, Managing Director, Woodland. - DEBASISH BHADURI

Footwear and apparel brand Woodland set up its first outlet in 1992 in Delhi. Today, it is one of India’s most successful retail brands with over 600 outlets and 20 per cent of its ₹1,200-crore turnover contributed by exports.

What has remained unchanged is its organisation structure. It is still a partnership firm, arguably the only one among its peers. The 50-year Harkirat Singh and his father Avtar have continued to be owners of the brand through a partnernship.

Woodland is now mulling a change in status. “The brand is expanding overseas and we do understand the need to have a corporate entity. We are talking to consultants on what sort of corporate structure would suit us,” Harkirat told BusinessLine.

A partnership firm has limited access to finance, a price that it pays for exemptions from mandatory disclosures and regulatory compliance.

Harkirat underlines that with 80 per cent stores making profits, and the turnover growing at 15 per cent a year, Woodland has sufficient internal accrual to fund the annual capex requirement of ₹60 crore.

What concerns him is if this is sufficient for future growth aspirations, especially in the overseas markets, and competition.

“As we expand into other territories, there could be compliance issues coming up. Also, the future generations might look for a more structured set-up,” he said.

Harkirat doesn’t set a time-frame for corporatisation. “There are still two-three years before such a move can happen,” he said.

Over the past 25 years, the retail sector has moved away from company-owned-company-operated (COCO) model to franchise stores.

Woodland, on the other hand, has mostly stuck to the COCO model, with barely 10-15 franchise stores in the network.

“Control over inventory and after sales services were the key reasons why we preferred having own stores,” Harkirat said. He is not planning any change in that approach.

Published on December 10, 2017

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