Trent to manage top-end brand for Benetton

Trent to manage top-end brand for Benetton

Mumbai: The Tata group’s retail company, Trent Ltd, will enter the premium clothing segment, partnering with Italian apparel retailer Benetton Group SpA to run and manage the latter’s premium fashion brand, Sisley, in India.

Benetton launched Sisley stores in India last year; the chain currently has three stores in Delhi. Trent will invest Rs40-50 crore to open 20 to 30 more stores over the next five years and will be the franchisee for the European brand. Benetton will not be making any investments in the arrangement.

There will be stand-alone stores and stores in malls. However, Trent may not stock the brand in its chain, Westside. The Sisley stores will be in the top eight metros.

“We are in the mid-market segment with Westside and Landmark and in the value segment with Star Bazaar," said Noel Tata, managing director of Trent.

“This gives us an opportunity to participate in the growing premium market in the country." Tata said Trent would look to bring two to three international brands into India.

“This is a positive move by the company," said Girish Solanki,a retail analyst at Angel Broking, a Mumbai-based brokerage. “They needed to show some movement. Other retail companies, including those in the mid-market segment, have grown faster."

Trent currently runs nine book stores under the Landmark brand name and opened its second hypermarket, called Star Bazaar, in Mumbai, last week. It plans to open two more Star Bazaar stores this year and will increase the number of such outlets to 23 or 24 by 2009-10, Neeti Chopra, Trent’s marketing head, said.

Sisley’s expansion plans come at a time when several premium global retailers have entered India.

British retailer French Connection and Italian fashion retailer Miss Sixty launched in India this year as also American fashion label Calvin Klein’s premium line. While retailers say it is hard to analyse how big the premium clothing market currently is, Tata said it could be a Rs50-100 crore opportunity.

Known for its provocative international ad campaigns, Benetton was among the first foreign retailers to open shop in India, 15 years ago. It now has 140 shops nationwide and will expand to 177, this year. Its Indian business is among the fastest growing, at 70%, said Alessandro Benetton, the group’s deputy chairman.

The tie-up between the two groups will be for five years.