New Delhi: Reliance Retail Ltd, an arm of India’s largest conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd, may be in early stages of discussions with New York-based apparel maker Liz Claiborne Inc. for a joint venture that will open the foreign company’s branded stores in India, according to two people familiar with the situation who did not wish to be identified.
Liz Claiborne owns apparel brands under an eponymous brand as well as others such as Mexx, Juicy Couture clothing and Kate Spade bags. The firm was set up in 1976 and named after its founder who died last year. The Liz Claiborne brand itself has been battling to stay popular, but brands such as Juicy Couture are extremely popular among the smart set.
It is unclear what brands the joint venture will eventually bring to India, if a deal is sealed. Liz Claiborne operates hundreds of stores in North America and Europe and the company is looking at emerging markets including China and India for growth, a top company official had told Reuters last year.
Indian laws permit overseas firms to hold up to 51% in retailing where brands are sold under a single brand name, such as Gucci or Nike.
“We believe India is an attractive and important market and we are currently developing our strategy there,” said Jane Randel, Liz Claiborne’s vice-president, corporate communications, in an email response to a query about a possible alliance with Reliance.
This won’t be the first overseas brand that Reliance has sought a tie-up with. In April, Reliance sealed a joint venture to sell UK’s Marks and Spencer Group Plc. products in India. It has an ambitious $6 billion (Rs25,560 crore) retail plan to open thousands of stores from grocery outlets to hypermarkets in the coming years.
It is also pushing various formats ranging from jewellery stores to eyecare outlets, areas seen as less of a threat than its grocery stores. With about 600 stores across India, it posted a loss of under Rs1 crore in its first full year of operations.