Hardcastle Restaurants to enter apparels through tie-up with city mill promoter Preethi Chamikutty MUMBAI HARDCASTLE Restaurants, the JV partner of McDonald’s India, is now venturing into the apparels business. The company will be bringing in two Disney brands — Disney Baby and Disney Jeans — into the country, in partnership with the Jalan family, the promoters of Mumbai-based Prakash Cotton Mills. The apparel business will be handled through the JV company, Global Trendz Retail (GTR).

GTR will set up ‘Bungee’ stores across the country that will house the two brands. Disney Baby is targeted at 0-4 years while Disney Jeans will target the 4-14-year olds. The company will bring in characters such as baby Mickey Mouse, baby Donald Duck, Pooh and Tigger among others. Speaking exclusively to ET, Hardcastle Restaurants MDAmit Jatia said: “After having dealt with the Indian consumer so closely through McDonald’s for the past 10-12 years, we feel, we have a good sense of their requirements.”

Kids apparel market in India is worth around Rs 13,000 crore, of which, branded retail is nearly Rs 3,000 crore and has been growing at 15-20% YoY. Gini & Jony, Weekender Kids, Ruff and Zapp! are some of the other brands in the kids-wear space.

Mr Jatia said GTR’s USP will be its price point proposition, ie, to offer value-formoney products. “The Indian consumer is price-sensitive and if you do not price your products right, then market penetration will be a challenge,” he said. GTR has opened its first Bungee store in Kalyan, a suburb beyond Mumbai. “Kalyan is a mid-segment market and is a representative of India in many sense. We shall be able to judge consumer reaction much better here,” Mr Jatia said. GTR plans to open 50 stores across 20 towns in 2009-10. Besides Mumbai, the company also plans to look at Hyderabad, Nagpur, Bangalore and Mysore.

Apart from standalone stores, Disney Baby and Disney Jeans will also be available in multi-brand outlets (MBOs) such as Shoppers Stop, Lifestyle and more. While stores in big towns would be owned by GTR, small town presence would be through the franchise route. “We will be looking at a mixture of both, as in outstation stores, a franchise can bring in local expertise which is handy,” Mr Jatia said. GTR will be investing over Rs 50 crore in store launches and market expansion over the next two years.

Arvind Verma, will be the CEO of GTR and will be responsible for the day-to-day running of the business. Mr Verma was head of Levi’s western India business and has over 15 years of experience in the garments industry. While Mr Jatia was very cryptic about what role the Jalan family will play, he said: “To keep our products competitively priced, we will be sourcing a lot of products locally. The Jalans have a lot of experience in the textile and manufacturing business, which will be useful.” What is not clear is whether GTR will be producing goods locally or importing them. But keeping Mr Jatia’s emphasis on price in mind, the Jalan family’s role could be more than just that of a promoter.

The Disney Baby brand internationally includes all kids-care products including food, toys and accessories, but at this stage GTR will only be looking at bringing in apparel products into the country.