The world's seventh largest casual footwear brand, Ecco, is preparing to launch a number of exclusive retail stores in India under the Ecco brand.

The exclusive stores would be operated by franchisees, since foreign direct investment (FDI) is not yet allowed into retail operations in the country.

In the first phase of expansion the company has planned two stores in Delhi. Expansion into other cities will follow.

In addition, Ecco also plans to sell its products through shops-in-shop in major national department stores.

Launched in India in 2004, the brand currently sells its products through Shoetree retail outlets in Delhi, Chandigarh and Mumbai. Its products are priced on par with global pricing, and pitched at the premium-end of the Indian market.

Although the company sources hides and leather uppers from India, finished products are being imported into India from its production centres in Denmark, Slovakia, Portugal, Thailand, China and Indonesia.

Ecco, based in Denmark, has worldwide sales of around US$500 million.

In the early-2000s the company's founder, Karl Toosbuy, envisioned a growth for the next 10 years that would surpass the total growth in the previous 40 years. In order to achieve this vision Ecco is now spreading its footprint to un-represented high potential markets such as India.