Monday, November 23, 2009

Global luxury apparel retailers eyeing Indian mkts



The fashionista dream is alive and kicking. But it’s no longer strictly elitist! With the US and Europe still grappling with recession,global luxury apparel retailers are eyeing markets like India, which has put itself firmly on the path of recovery.

Reworking their business model by focusing on affordable luxury, international majors are in talks with Indian players to target aspirational but value-conscious consumers.

While retail chain major Shoppers Stop is all set to launch Playboy brand of unisex wear, textile conglomerate S Kumars group is bringing in three international brands by the end of this fiscal.

Several high-priced international apparel brands were earlier forced to close shop due to sluggish demand. Few other brands like Jimmy Choo and Bottega Veneta changed hands from the Murjanis to Genesis Colors and Springfield in order to sustain growth.

Now, global brands are relying on Indian retailers’ understanding of the local market while Indian retailers are reworking the price in accordance with preference of the consumers.

“Indian retailers, tying up with international brands, are giving them an insight of the Indian market and taking the responsibility of marketing on franchisee basis, which is being preferred by the overseas brands,” says Rahul Mehta, president of Clothing Manufacturers Association.

Shoppers Stop, which had launched foreign brands like MAC, Mothercare and Austin Reed among dozen of global brands, and now plans to add about half-a-dozen international labels soon.

“We have recently introduced European jeanswear brand Mustang and will be launching Playboy apparel (Avinix Fashion) and luxury cosmetic brand Guerlain (Baccarrose),” says Govind Shrikhande, chief executive officer of Shoppers Stop. India is seen as a key growth market and is getting positive response from several international brands, added Mr Shrikhande.

S Kumars group, which tied up with Italian brand Oviesse this year, is in talks with other international brands. Nitin Kasliwal, managing director of S Kumars Nationwide (SKNL), said, “We are in advanced stage of talks with international apparel brands keen to tap the Indian market soon. Some of these brands are top-end luxury brands.” Brandhouse Retails, apparel retail arm of SKNL, will look after the retail expansion and marketing of these brands in the country.

Arvind Brands, which has a licence to market premium segment men’s wear brands such as Arrow and Gant, has launched ‘Izod’ in India, a label of global apparel firm Van Heusen. In line with others, Murjani Group, that brought brands like Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Gloria Vanderbilt and French connection funky wears for youngsters FCUK, has also launched an on-line sales service for the brand.

Industry analysts contend that earlier the global luxury brands, which came in India, were highly priced for the Indian consumers. Now, in order to sustain in the market, most of them have started discount selling. The big brands Mega Carnival in Mumbai recently offered almost 80% on international brands like Roberto Cavalli, Givenchy, Davidoff, Chopard and Calvin Klein, to name a few.

“Market for luxury brands is yet to develop in a country like India, where demand is rising with consumers’ purchasing power,” said Tarun Joshi, managing director Brandhouse.

According to industry analysts, the market for luxury and premium brands in India is estimated at about Rs 6,000 crore- Rs 7,000 crore and growing at about 25-30%. However, luxury is still in its nascent stages as only 8-10% of the Indian population in metros is exposed to such brands. Overall, organised apparel retail contributed more than 35 % of the entire organised retail market aggregating over $ 60 billion.

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