India’s House of Pearl Fashions Ltd, that supplies garments to companies such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and JC Penny Co., plans to enter India’s retail market, joining hordes of Indian companies angling for a piece of the fast-growing retail business in India.
Gurgaon-based House of Pearl has earmarked Rs50 crore to open 10 “pilot stores” next year in different cities in North India that will primarily sell western wear for women. Separately, the company has appointed Tom Singh, the founder of London-based high-street fashion chain New Look, as a member on its board of directors.
Punjab-born Singh, who moved to the UK when he was one year old and raised there, is among the well-known Asian businessmen in that country. He started a store with his wife in 1969 that eventually became a popular, affordable fashion chain in the country. Singh currently owns 21% of New Look that operates hundreds of stores in the UK, and is expanding to France and Belgium.
A top House of Pearl official who wished not to be named said the company is in talks with Singh to explore a joint retail business in the country.
“Tom Singh is very keen and is looking at India as a strategic place for retailing, ” the person said. “We will work together if something comes up.”
Currently House of Pearl has not entered into any agreement with Singh but “there could be a partnership” in the future, he said. “We are trying to leverage Tom Singh’s retailing experience.
“We are still evaluating plans together,” he said. “The number of stores could go up if he wants to come on board but so far nothing has been firmed up.”
A spokesman for House of Pearl declined to comment on the story and Singh’s office in London said he was not available to speak . An emailed questionnaire did not elicit a response.
At the same time, House of Pearl is acquiring a brand outside India and is “closely monitoring” three-four retail chains in the US and the UK for a possible buyout with an unnamed foreign partner, the official said.