|F J Benjamin Inks Sri Lanka franchise for Raoul|
First RAOUL store to open in Colombo
RAOUL, Singapore’s leading international fashion label, has inked a franchise agreement in Sri Lanka, the second this year after a similar deal in China in May this year.
The franchisee, Sri Lankan-based White Lotus Fashions (Private) Ltd, will open the first standalone RAOUL store in Colombo in December 2013 to be housed in a refurbished colonial project in the heart of the city.
White Lotus Fashions is owned by Sri Lankan entrepreneur Rayynor Silva who is the Chairman of Asia Broadcasting Corporation Private Limited, which operates the country’s leading radio stations Gold FM, Sun FM, Hiru FM, Sooriyan FM and Shaa Fm, and operates the country’s first ever Digital Ready/HD Ready television channel Hiru TV. He also has interests in hotels through his holdings in listed Citrus Leisure PLC and property through Skyline Pacific Real Estate (Private) Limited.
Douglas Benjamin, Chief Operating Officer of F J Benjamin Holdings, said: “This is our second franchise deal in two months and is a testament to the growing appeal of the RAOUL brand in international markets. We are delighted that White Lotus Fashions is so passionate about RAOUL and we know that they will do the brand proud.
“RAOUL is entering the Sri Lankan market at a time when the country’s economy is poised for further growth following the end of a three-decade war. This franchise agreement will give RAOUL first mover advantage in a country where the market for luxury fashion is still at a nascent stage with very few quality brands available for the discerning, fashion conscious shopper.”
The Sri Lankan civil war which started in 1983 ended in 2009 after the military defeated the Tamil Tigers. Since the war ended, the economy has been one of the fastest growing in South Asia. Last year, its GDP grew by 6.4% and this year, the central bank is forecasting growth of 7.5%. The tourism industry has started to pick up with tourist arrivals more than doubling since 2009 to over one million visitors in 2012.
Dr Dilini Silva, Managing Director of White Lotus Fashions, said: “We are excited to enter into this franchise relationship with RAOUL in Sri Lanka and we look forward to establishing RAOUL as a leading luxury fashion brand in Sri Lanka.
“We believe in the potential of RAOUL. It is one of the few Asian labels which is being noticed in the fashion capitals of the world. Its impressive range of products, with their creative use of fabric, colour and style, will surely appeal to the fashion forward elite in Sri Lanka.”
Dr Silva holds a Doctorate in Business from Australia and a Chartered Marketer qualification from the United Kingdom.
In May this year, FJ Benjamin signed a franchise agreement with Chongqing-based Budy (Chongqing) Import & Export Trading Co to set up RAOUL stores in China from mid-September.
RAOUL was created by Douglas and Odile Benjamin in 2002 to fill a niche by providing quality but affordable shirts for men. It later branched out to womenswear, accessories and leather goods, which now account for more than half of its sales. RAOUL is sold in over 30 countries around the world including stores in Singapore, the Middle East, Paris, Milan, London and New York. It is also available on online stores.
Hollywood celebrities such as Zhang Ziyi, Rebecca Romijn, Viola Davis, Jennifer Lawrence, and royalty including The Duchess of Cambridge, have been seen wearing items from the brand’s collections.
RAOUL is one of two in-house brands for the FJ Benjamin Group, the other being Catherine Deane. The Group also distributes a range of well-known fashion and timepiece brands including Banana Republic, Celine, Gap, Givenchy, Goyard, Guess, La Senza, Valextra, Bell & Ross, Girard-Perregaux, Guess? Watches, and Marc Ecko.