How Wildcraft India has shifted focus to making tactical gears to rake in revenue

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Published: June 19, 2020 7:35 AM

The tactical gear range which was expected contribute 10% to its revenue in FY21, has posted an increase to 25%

The company gets about 20% of its business from online channels which includes tie-up with the Flipkart group and its own website, claims Siddharth Sood, co-founder, Wildcraft IndiaThe company gets about 20% of its business from online channels which includes tie-up with the Flipkart group and its own website, claims Siddharth Sood, co-founder, Wildcraft India

Wildcraft, known for its range of outdoor travel gear, is busy manufacturing PPE suits and face masks. With outdoor activities suspended, the company is shifting its focus on tactical gear to rake in revenue. Siddharth Sood talks to Devika Singh about changing the company’s product mix, devising new retail strategies, and more.

With travel still on hold, what kind of demand are you expecting for your core products? Has the easing of lockdown brought in sales?

There is no questioning the fact that travel will remain impacted. Products like backpacks and rucksacks don’t have many takers at this point. However, we expect that there will be more experiential travel happening, as compared to tourism — more backpacks versus suitcases — going ahead. As people would be wary of travelling in groups, we expect individual travel and nuclear family travel to increase, particularly on domestic routes. And that is the set of consumers we have been speaking to.

We are seeing demand on online platforms for our spring-summer range, which includes products like shorts and t-shirts. People are working from home and, hence, we expect the demand for these products to remain.

While we had zero sales in the months of April and May, due to the lockdown, we have returned to 35-40% normalcy in June, when it comes to our core products. Our kids’ brand Wiki, which contributed about 25-30% of our revenue, is yet to see a recovery, as schools are shut. But that demand will be back when schools reopen.

We have started receiving orders from corporates for customised Wildcraft backpacks for their employees. While our core businesses have been hit, we have been witnessing growth on the back of our line of tactical gear.

By launching hazmat suits and respirators, is Wildcraft trying to move away from its ‘outdoor/ adventure’ image?

Our core philosophy has been driven by functionality and performance; we were never a fashion brand. Therefore, we are not diluting our core by launching respirators and hazmat suits. We were already offering products like tents, sleeping bags and rainwear. In fact, we had also won a contract to manufacture rucksacks for the Indian Army last year. So, this is an extension of that category.

We would continue to focus on our core range of products, and have assigned a team to innovate according to the changing consumer behaviour. We have products like face shields, goggles, hygiene kits as well as respirators for kids under the Wiki brand. We had projected that the tactical gear range would contribute 10% to our revenue in FY21, and are seeing this increasing to 25% now.

How much of a revenue hit has Wildcraft taken during the lockdown period?

While our core business has been hit, we have been able to recover due to the tactical range — in the month of June, it gave us 30% growth. We had been growing at about 25-30% year-on-year for the last 10 years. We expect to be on the same trajectory this year, but the product mix is going to be very different.

How have you tweaked your retail strategy in the wake of the crisis?

In the last few months, we have completely disrupted our distribution network. While we were present at 5,000 points of sale, pre-Covid — primarily lifestyle points of sale — we are now retailing at about one lakh points of sale.

We have reached out to pharmacies, super stockists and distributors of pharma products, and general trade stores for our tactical gear. We plan to reach out to the masses through this category, and have spruced up our manufacturing to meet the demand. We had only one warehouse in Bengaluru earlier, but now we are operating out of 32 warehouses across the country.

Currently, we get about 20% of our business from the online channel, which includes our tie-up with the Flipkart group and our own website. Our website is witnessing 10 times more traffic as compared to the same period last year. Our retail strategy is going to remain channel-agnostic, and as a brand, we will reach out to consumers wherever they are present. We also have 175 exclusive showrooms and are trying our best to not shut any of them.

Read Also: Lexus India’s PB Venugopal on life beyond work

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