Regional Brand

Slow and steady

Menswear Turtle has grown beyond its humble origins. But can it survive the onslaught of low-priced mass brands?

Sandipan Chatterjee

Why get lost in a dark avenue when you can turn Turtle?”; “why get hit by arrows when you can turn Turtle?”; “why get conned by every Hewey, Dewey and Louis?” — in the garish, fluorescent early nineties, it was quite common for Kolkata’s citizens to spot cheesy, zany advertisements to this effect on hoardings across town. Meant to announce the arrival of a new premium apparel brand, these hoardings achieved the purpose of holding the public’s attention.

With its blanket coverage, this relative upstart was trying to take on established rivals such as Park Avenue, Arrow and Louis Phillippe, positioning its products as chic alternatives to the offerings of these brands. Its guerilla strategy succeeded and Turtle — the company to whom the aforementioned hoardings belonged — soon became the go-to brand for ready-made men’s apparel. 

Since its inception in 1993, Turtle has emerged as one of India’s fastest growing menswear companies, selling everything from T-shirts and trousers to accessories. Headquartered at Howrah, on the outskirts of Kolkata, with an office space of about 30,000 sq ft, factory and warehouse space of 60,000 sq ft and a capacity of 2.5 million pieces a year, Turtle has branched out across the country. 

 

Coming of age

The company's top line has grown

at 20% over the past five years

“The turtle is a spiritual creature. It represents timelessness, endurance and longevity,” says Amit Ladsaria, director, Turtle Limited. Which is why, on a warm Sunday evening all the way back in 1992, as Turtle promoter and MD and Ladsaria’s uncle Sanjay Jhunjhunwala sipped his coffee and watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the pre-cable television network, he decided to set up a company inspired by the gentle animal. 

The duo started out by setting up a garment store in Howrah with two employees and a seed capital of ₹40,000 from their savings, with little or almost no experience in the trade. “San

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