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Business News/ Companies / Bulgari launches store in New Delhi
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Bulgari launches store in New Delhi

The luxury brand says it will take 18-24 months before opening another shop in the country as it scouts for desirable luxury retail spaces

India is a part of Bulgari’s Asia strategy to sell bridal jewellery to wealthy Indians who are not frugal about spending money on extravagant weddings. Photo: Madhu Kapparath/HTPremium
India is a part of Bulgari’s Asia strategy to sell bridal jewellery to wealthy Indians who are not frugal about spending money on extravagant weddings. Photo: Madhu Kapparath/HT

New Delhi: Italian luxury jewellery and watch retailer Bulgari SpA will take 18-24 months before opening another shop in the country as it scouts for desirable luxury retail spaces in India, where the Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA (LVMH)-owned brand re-opened its flagship boutique in the capital on Wednesday.

“The occasion to find luxury jewellery brand in India is still very very limited," Jean-Christophe Babin, chief executive officer at the 130-year-old company, said in an interview. “At this stage we have not seen anything which is under construction and which could qualify as luxury."

India has a limited offering of luxury retail spaces that has stalled the entry of large luxury brands into India.

Apart from New Delhi’s DLF Emporio that houses brands such as Louis Vuitton, Fendi and Dior, and Bangalore’s UB City, Mumbai’s Palladium has a designated section for luxury brands along with other foreign retailers.

“We don’t want to be in malls that also sell cheaper-priced products," said Babin, who joined the jewellery retailer in 2013 after having spent years heading watch brand TAG Heuer globally.

While Indians are willing to spend on luxury goods, real estate hasn’t developed in tandem, Babin said.

“There are more and more people who can afford luxury at different price levels in this country," he said. But mall development has been slow compared with some other countries, according to Babin.

“So if five years down the line you have 10 (luxury) malls, we ourselves will increase our presence in this country accordingly," said Babin. “We could look at cities such as Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and Chandigarh."

India, the world’s second-largest consumer of gold, is a part of Bulgari’s Asia strategy to sell bridal jewellery to wealthy Indians who are not frugal about spending money on extravagant weddings.

“We will sell engagement rings and wedding jewellery in India soon," said Babin.

Bulgari has been associated with Hollywood actresses such as Elizabeth Taylor, sells rings that range from €1,000 to fine jewellery pieces that go up to €1 million, apart from watches and accessories.

Wednesday's launch was Bulgari’s second entry into India, after it withdrew from the market three years ago on account of a failed partnership.

“We have a silent partner, but we will have full management control, running the business out of our headquarters, till we reach scale in India," said Babin.

The brand’s launch comes after it received approval from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) in July to set up single-brand retail stores through a joint venture with New Delhi-based Luxco India Retail Pvt. Ltd. Bulgari, known for its jewellery designs, watches, perfumes and accessories, promised an initial investment of about 2.67 crore to roll out operations in India.

In 2011, LVMH, the world’s largest luxury group headed by French billionaire Bernard Arnault, bought the Italian jeweller famous for dressing Hollywood film stars in a $5.2 billion (around 31,930 crore today) deal.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Suneera Tandon
Suneera Tandon is a New Delhi based reporter covering consumer goods for Mint. Suneera reports on fast moving consumer goods makers, retailers as well as other consumer-facing businesses such as restaurants and malls. She is deeply interested in what consumers across urban and rural India buy, wear and eat. Suneera holds a masters degree in English Literature from the University of Delhi.
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Published: 20 Nov 2014, 12:22 AM IST
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