(R-L)Abhishek Chopra and Sagar Sarin

Co-founders Abhishek Chopra and Sagar Sarin had a lot of friends and colleagues who often struggled to find dress shoes that went well during formal and informal occasions. They were looking for something that trod the middle ground between traditional brogues and oxfords and trainers and walked a different beat and walked in Churchill.

The idea of launching a footwear brand came to Abhishek Chopra and Sagar Sarin when they realised that the major trends for trainers and less formal work clothing that men were looking for a more versatile, comfortable and modern style shoe designs.

The co-founders of Churchill & Company had a lot of friends and colleagues who often struggled to find dress shoes that went well during formal and informal occasions. They were looking for something that trod the middle ground, between traditional brogues and oxfords and trainers and walked a different beat in Churchill. According to Abhishek, “Like most new businesses it’s been difficult to establish Churchill in the premium footwear segment. With limited resources, in a short span of 3 years the team at Churchill shoes has been able to grow the brand by 4 times year on year.”

Since organized footwear volume is growing at 20% CAGR, Abhishek says, that this is just the beginning of the journey for the category. “We at Churchill & Company aim to aggressively take full advantage of this situation and would like to gain a substantial share of market in the next few years,” maintains Abhishek.

Churchill shoes, Abhishek claims, come from the finest design studio in Northampton, England and are crafted with a fine balance and precision of man and machine with the finest imported European full grain leather. “Churchill has a trademarked technology ‘Softherapy’ which delivers a softer foot strike to the ground devoid of any stiffness. To gentlemen, we provide a more versatile, classic and comfortable walking beat with deconstructed styles and softer finishes. Churchill is classic style designed softly,” explains Abhishek.

The brand’s aim is to offer a solution to gentlemen across all age groups. Its designs are classic, yet unusual and they are versatile. This, apparently, has allowed Churchill to become a popular amongst well-dressed young gentlemen. Sagar elaborates, “Initially, we focused our online marketing efforts on metro cities, however, over the years we realized that Churchill has increasingly gained a lot of traction in Tier 1 towns such as Nagpur, Jalandhar, Coimbatore and many more.”

When it comes to product line, Sagar says, “You can step into the season on the right foot with Churchill shoes, whether you’re searching for dress shoes that complete a perfectly put-together look or casual shoes for the laid-back times, we have the men’s footwear you need. At the moment we have released limited edition line extensions – leather belts and bags which we intend to make a part of our portfolio going forward.”

The brand’s strategy is to build the core brand. Once we build a critical mass among our core target audience over the next 18 months we will have full-fledged line extensions which will support the core product offering, Sagar adds.

The brand has been very selective and focused both on retail and promotional strategy with its significant presence on social media, digital and e-commerce platforms, including its own ecommerce platform. Additionally, its shoes are available at select multi-brand high-end stores in metro cities and pop up stores. We have had a 4X growth over the last 3 years, asserts Abhishek.

Over the years the segment has altered. Today, it’s common to find several brands competing neck-to-neck in the segment where the brand is operating. In addition to the well-positioned global brands are the ambitious home-grown brands, making the competition more intense. Underscoring this, Sagar elaborates, “The market is very competitive with numerous international and local brands. e-commerce continues to wreak havoc with premium brands with their heavily discount led sales strategies. This has compelled us to upgrade the current store infrastructure and staff to adapt to a changing consumer mind-set In a data driven world, personalization and streamlining a 360degree brand communication strategy is vital for any brand that hopes to stay relevant with the young population (50 % + of the population under the age of 30)”

The co-founders are quite certain that in the next 5 years the brand will be Rs 50+ crore. They admit that a clear roadmap has been designed in order to build a strong connection with its core target audience by harnessing the power of socially savvy brand advocates who are inspired by a shared sense of purpose.

Abhishek adds, “Churchill walks a different beat – this is encapsulated in our campaigns in a subtle manner and clever use of illustrations – we will not be splashing money on lavish campaigns but will pick up relevant themes which strike a chord among our target audience)”.

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