This Kanpur-based entrepreneur built a Rs 324Cr leather shoe brand with 175 stores across India
Manoj Gyanchandani started a leather shoe export business in his early 20s while he was also involved in his family’s business.
In 1995, he set up Leayan Global Private Limited to export leather shoes to Europe. However, two years later, Manoj realised that the Indian footwear market isn’t organised in the leather shoe sector.
Manoj Gyanchandani, Founder, Red Chief
Thus, wrapping up the export business, he studied the market to incept a business to do so. In 1997, he launched Red Chief brand under the parent company Leayan Global Private Limited, which is a part of Rs 5,500 crore diversified conglomerate RSPL.
In an interaction with SMBStory, Manoj says,
“There were no good quality men’s shoe available at an affordable price and so, I decided to launch my own footwear brand, bootstrapping capital from the profits of the existing family business.”
Setting feet in the market
Initially, Manoj decided to set a firm foot in Kanpur itself. He started by showcasing products in multi-branded outlets across the city. This continued till 2010 when Red Chief expanded to multi-branded outlets in other different states.
In 2011, the entrepreneur launched the first exclusive Red Chief outlet in Kanpur. Since then, there has been no looking back.
Today, Red Chief has 175 stores located across 16 states including Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Chhattisgarh. It is also present in over 3,000 multi-brand outlets. Manoj says Red Chief dominates in the North India market.
According to the Registrar of Companies (RoC) filings, the company makes an annual turnover of over Rs 324 crore.
“Almost 80 percent of our products are manufactured in-house. We have a complete leather and footwear manufacturing with our own tannery, and three manufacturing plants across Kanpur, Haridwar, and other cities,” says Manoj.
He adds that 20 percent of Red Chief’s shoe collection range is also manufactured in third-party manufacturing units under strict quality control by the company.
Red Chief’s leather shoes can cost from Rs 2,500 to Rs 4,000. The brand is also listed on ecommerce portals like Amazon, Flipkart, and Myntra.
Challenges and the competition
Talking about the challenges, Manoj says Indian consumers are highly price-sensitive and want the best of quality at nominal price points.
“Many brands make a mistake of compromising on quality for short-term gains. Although such an approach by brands induces a challenge for us but being a highly consumer-centric brand, quality remains at our forefront,” he adds.
Red Chief has also expanded by venturing into the apparel and accessory sectors. It now offers solutions to all men's fashion and lifestyle requirements by offering products like jeans, belts, wallets, deodorants, and more. The company also has a sports range Furo by Red Chief, with a starting price of Rs 1,800.
Red Chief's shoe collection
Manoj says, “Not only are we diversified with unique designs that stand out from those of our competitors but we also stand united in our promise of delivering nothing but the best.”
The way ahead
Recently, Red Chief roped in actor Vicky Kaushal as its brand ambassador The brand’s 360-degree advertising campaign “Khel Gaye Chief” has been on for the last three months, covering mass media and digital platforms.
Manoj says it is getting a phenomenal response from channel partners and consumers.
Going forward, the company is planning to move to the next level of growth and expansion across India, with better penetration among youth.
(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)