Timberland to exit Indian market by March 2015

The Timberland Company, the world’s leading outdoor lifestyle brand that entered the Indian market by partnering with Reliance Brands through a licence-cum-distribution agreement in September 2009, has decided to close all its outlets across the country by March 2015 as it faces stiff competition from the local brand Woodland, the Mint reported citing Darshan Mehta, chief executive officer of Reliance Brands.

The Timberland Company, a subsidiary of VF Corp, and Gurgaon-based Woodland have been engaged in a court case over intellectual property since 2008 as the two companies have similar logos, store designs, similar communication and marketing, and even similar products.

“When we entered into the agreement with Timberland, we knew they were having intellectual property (IP) issues with Woodland. They had assured us that they would take care of them,” Mehta told the paper.

Aero Shoes, which launched Woodland, is also engaged in another intellectual property dispute over the design of a classic sling bag with Hidesign India Pvt Ltd.

The Timberland Company was founded in 1970, while Woodland was floated by Aero Shoes in the 1990s. At its peak, Timberland had 14 stores in India, seven standalone ones and seven shop-in-shops. The US-based VF Corp also has brands such as Lee and Wrangler.

On the other side, Woodland currently has 500 outlets and is adding another 60 outlets this year. Moreover, it also sells through 4,000 shop-in-shops in departmental stores like Lifestyle and in other multi-brand retail showrooms.

Reliance Brands is a part of Mukesh Ambani-controlled Reliance Industries Ltd and was started in 2007. The company has eleven partnerships. Six of them with Brooks Brothers, Diesel, Ermenegildo Zegna, Iconix, Paul&Shark and Quiksilver Group (Quiksilver, Roxy & DC) are joint ventures while the other five with Hamleys, Kenneth Cole, Steve Madden, Thomas Pink and Timberland are long term distribution/licence partnerships.

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