Chennai: British ethnic Western wear retailer East sees potential to open at least 200 stores in India piggybacking on local chain Fabindia Overseas Pvt. Ltd by pricing its clothes and accessories at half the price in its UK stores.
The first store, which opens on Thursday in New Delhi, is also a test for handcrafted Indian wear retailer Fabindia, which is trying to make itself relevant to a growing number of urban Indian women who prefer trousers and shirts to a ‘salwar kameez’. “Our clothes will be targeted at women who are increasingly interested in international fashion and not just Indian fashion,” said East chairman Clive Pettigrew.
Adapting: East’s Clive Pettigrew says their clothes will be targeted at Indian women increasingly interested in international fashion. Ramesh Pathania / Mint
The Indian stores may be a lifeline for East, which in the past few years has seen many management changes and last year registered profits of just £2 million on sales of £35 million, similar to its performance in 2005.
In January, the Delhi-based Fabindia, which sells hand-woven garments, home furnishings and organic food, picked a 25% stake in East, popular for its vibrant and bohemian prints. It has the option of buying the remaining stake from Pettigrew and other investors over the next two-three years. Fabindia had sales of at least Rs300 crore last year. India’s clothing and textile segment is expected to grow at 23.3% till March 2011, according to a report by Man Financial Sify-Securities India Pvt. Ltd, a Mumbai-based brokerage. The penetration of organized retail in clothing is expected to nearly double to 35% by 2011 from 18.4% in 2006, the report says.
Pettigrew said the four East stores—two in Delhi and one each in Mumbai and Bangalore that will open in August—will stock styles and sizes similar to those in its UK stores. He added that he sees potential for up to 240 stores in India. “The forecast for the stores seems high. It is something that may be possible, but in about 10 years’ time,” said Purnendu Kumar, associate vice-president at retail consultancy Technopak. “It is also important that any clothing retailer adapts the sizes and cuts to the Indian woman.”