Castledawson Boost as Savile Row Expands into India

Oct 19, 2004

Shirt designers at the Savile Row factory in Castledawson, Co Londonderry will play a pivotal role in the company's planned expansion into India and the Middle East; an expansion assisted by Invest Northern Ireland.

Shirt designers at the Savile Row factory in Castledawson, Co Londonderry will play a pivotal role in the company's planned expansion into India and the Middle East; an expansion assisted by Invest Northern Ireland.

Savile Row, which has its main administration and sales operations in the centre of London, has signed a major licensing deal with the Forbes Group of Mumbai, India's oldest company, with the backing of Invest NI's strategic alliances team and the British High Commissions in Delhi and Mumbai.

The deal will see Forbes open a network of Savile Row branded shops selling 'London-style' shirts, suits, ties and other quality garments across India and in other markets such as the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and Sri Lanka.

Jeffrey Doltis, Savile Row's managing director, said Forbes will manufacture the garments in India to designs developed by the team at the Castledawson factory.

Mr Doltis said: "The deal with Forbes is an integral part of our drive to expand international sales through franchising operations for our Savile Row branded garments. India was an obvious target for us because of strength of the middle class there and the longstanding relationship the country has with the United Kingdom. Demand for 'London-style' garments is particularly strong among the business community in India because these are seen as being of premium quality.

"I approached Invest NI in February for advice and support in the implementation of our international growth strategy. The support that I received from the strategic alliances team in Invest NI's trade division was outstanding. I was thoroughly impressed by the enthusiastic and highly responsive approach to my request for information about potential licensees.

"I was given a list of around 50 potential partners and helped by Invest NI in accessing the expert services of the British High Commissions in Delhi and Mumbai, the latter producing an extremely useful and comprehensive report on suitable companies. This helped us to pinpoint the Forbes Group. Invest NI, in addition, helped me to access essential legal advice on a strategic alliance.

“I visited Forbes in Mumbai and was very impressed by the group’s ethical business approach, its professionalism and highly efficient manufacturing operation.

"We have now completed the licensing deal with Forbes and look forward to the opening of the first in a network of Savile Row shops in India early in 2005," he added.

Tracy Meharg, Invest NI's managing director of Innovation and Capability Development, welcoming the licensing deal, said: “Savile Row is implementing an imaginative strategy to grow its overall business by focusing on international opportunities for its established and respected brand by means of a manufacturing and marketing partnership in India.

“This strategic initiative will assist in the development of new skills in Northern Ireland through a sharper focus on design and other value-added support services. The partnership is an important boost for our ‘Opportunity India’ campaign which seeks to foster closer business relationships between Northern Ireland and India.

“The partnership, furthermore, is in line with the work of the Invest NI Textiles and Industry Sector Team which is assisting companies to implement the recommendations of the Kurt Salmon Action Plan that include a focus on alliances geared to new opportunities in global niche markets,” she added.

Savile Row currently employs around 100 people in a range of activities including garment design, manufacturing, warehousing and contact centre support for the company's fast growing and successful mail order service.

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