It will be as large as a bedroom, although those don’t come very big in space-starved Mumbai; be able to accommodate 46 people; sport recliners; have piped music; and even an attender whose only job will be to give everyone a glass of champagne, maybe two. It isn’t a new lounge bar in a city that has its share of those, but a lift.
The lift in a luxury designer-wear mall has to look like, well, the lift in a luxury designer-wear mall. That’s the logic of Pradeep Hirani, the promoter of the mall, and the person behind the Kimaya chain of fashion stores (six stores across three cities).
The mall, spread across nine storeys and 40,000 sq. ft, is coming up in Bandra, a western suburb of Mumbai, and will open for business in 2008.
Several designer and luxury brands have entered or are considering entering the Indian market. According to The Knowledge Company, a management consulting firm in New Delhi, there were 1.6 million high net worth individual (HNI) households (average annual income in excess of Rs45 lakh) in India.
Retail consulting firm Technopak estimates that the Indian market for branded designer wear is worth around Rs1,400 crore a year and growing at 50% per annum.
The UK-based FCUK (French Connection UK) is set to launch its eponymous stores in India next month. And Gucci, Christian Dior and Valentino entered the Indian market last year.
A common problem faced by these brands is the absence of an appropriate retail environment.
“At present, the retail environment is such that most of these brands are located in five-star hotels since there is a dearth of designer and luxury malls,” said Pratichee Kapoor, senior consultant, Technopak. That limits the ability of these brands to expand their presence in India.
Several Indian developers have plans for luxury malls. Delhi-based real-estate firm DLF Ltd plans one, Emporio. Hirani’s mall, however, will be among the first such malls in Mumbai. It is being designed by Hafeez Contractor.
Hirani said that the mall’s ninth floor would stock the latest top-end collections of designers from India and elsewhere. He added that the objective was to convince people to shop there rather than head overseas or to the outlets of individual designers. Kimaya currently stocks designer wear from 140 Indian and international designers.
“We want to cater to the top of the pyramid when majority of the retailers such as Reliance and Pantaloon are focusing on the mass market,” said Hirani.
By March 2008, Hirani claimed, the company would have 15 stores, including three new ones in West Asia (it already has one overseas store). He said Kimaya was considering selling a 10% stake in the company to a US-based venture capital firm.
“If needed, we will be diluting our stake to like-minded people who wish to have more than just a financial investment in the company,” he added. Hirani also claimed that Kimaya was close to signing a deal to distribute a top Italian womenswear brand and that it would open stores in Milan, Paris, London and New York after 2008.