New Delhi: With more relaxed investment norms in single-brand retailing, luxury brands that were not keen on just taking a franchise route are now putting India firmly on their expansion maps.
“We always wanted to enter... when that market is ready. With the relaxation in FDI (foreign direct investment) regulations, we are ready to do that now,” says Ermenegildo Zegna SpA chairman Paolo Zegna. His company will open a boutique store for the Italian luxury menswear label in the next couple of months in Mumbai.
India now allows 51% FDI into single-brand retail. While several global luxury brands have already established their presence in the Indian market space, many others including Hermès, Canali, Dunhill, Gaultier, Alberta Ferretti, Kenzo and Paul Smith are all set to enter India in the next few months.
“India is a strategic market for us,” adds Paolo Canali, chief executive officer of the Italian luxury menswear brand.
“We already have a store in Mumbai and will launch in Delhi later this year. Eventually, we plan to open our stores in all major cities as long as the locations are right,” he said.
Indeed, right locations, new luxury-only malls, getting branding and marketing right for the value-conscious Indian customer, as well as more changes in the regulatory environment will be in the frontburner as the who’s who of the global luxury world gather here in the nation’s capital on 30 and 31 March for the second annual Hindustan Times Mint Luxury Conference.
Dubbed, “India—Captivating the World”, the conference brings together the upper echelons of the luxury world, including Yves Carcelle, chairman and CEO of LVMH Fashion Group; Francoise Montenay, president, Chanel SAS, Christophe Caillaud, president of Jean Paul Gaultier, Philippe Leopold-Metzger, CEO of Piaget, and Michele Norsa, chief executive of Salvatore Ferragamo.
Representing key ministries will be Union minister for commerce and industry Kamal Nath, Ajay Dua, secretary of the ministry of commerce, as well as Christine Lagarde, minister for foreign trade for France.
Heads of the two largest luxury brand industry groups, including Montenay, chairman of the French trade group Comite Colbert, and Armando Branchini, managing director of Altagamma, the Italian trade group, are also participating.
Much of the focus at the conference will be on getting the location right, a key factor for luxury brands pondering their India strategy and growth opportunities.
Without the equivalent of a so-called high street, such as Bond Street in London or Fifth Avenue in New York, where luxury and fashion brands can aggregate to draw more concentrated store traffic, new high-end shopping malls, such as DLF’s Emporio in South Delhi, have begun to appeal to some luxury houses trying to find spaces beyond the limited hotel lobbies.
“Since the concept of the ‘high street’ does not exist in India yet, well-located and well-managed shopping malls could be the next best option,” says Chanel’s Montenay.
Between Emporio and the New Delhi Dome, some 30 luxury brands are expected to occupy emerging retail space in these two malls.
Meanwhile, Altagamma, the Italian federation of luxury goods manufacturers, too, has its own retail plans for India. According to Altagamma’s president Leonardo Ferragamo, also head of the namesake luxury house, the group will bring in several products, including fashion, to India in the coming months.
“We are also planning to set up high-end shopping malls in India,” says Ferragamo. “We are looking at both Delhi and Mumbai for this project and are in the process of identifying the locations,” he added.
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