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Business News/ Industry / Retail/  Zara opens largest store in Mumbai, to launch online portal by year-end

Mumbai: Zara owner Inditex SA, the world’s largest fashion retailer will open fewer but much bigger stores in India, a global spokesperson said on Thursday. In contrast, main rival Hennes & Mauritz AB has been opening one store a month on an average since launch in India in October 2015.

Zara, opened its largest store in India on Thursday spanning across 51,300 sq ft within an heritage listed building at Hatuma Chowk Square (Fort area), Mumbai. “Globally we are not opening many stores. We are opening larger stores. This is something you can expect in India as well," said a global spokesperson in an interview following the store opening in Mumbai.

The Spanish retailer has been in India since 2010 in a joint venture—Inditex Trent Retail India Pvt. Ltd—with the Tata group’s hypermarket and department stores retail company Trent Ltd. The JV has 22 stores across its two brands—20 Zara and two Massimo Dutti stores according to its press statement shared on Thursday.

H&M has 16 stores in 18 months of operation in India. The Swedish fashion apparel company plans to open four more by the end of the year, said an H&M India spokes person. The retailer has already opened an high street store of close to 30,000 square ft at Connaught Place, Delhi.

To be sure, brands are becoming flexible and looking at high street to open stores as they have already established a presence in leading malls in the large cities. Also high streets are reinventing themselves to become hi-end retail destinations. “In markets like south Mumbai and central Delhi there is no organised retail coming up. However these areas present high customer spending potential," said Pankaj Renjhen, managing director, retail services, Jones Lang LaSalle, a real estate consultancy firm. According to Renjhen, brands are now willing to look at high street to cater to that segment.

The two fast fashion retailers also differ in their views on online retail. Zara will be launching its online portal by the end of the year, said the global spokesperson. The online channel will help the brand to expand its presence beyond the metros to smaller cities and semi-rural areas. Small towns and rural has been one of the growth drivers of online retailing in India.

Meanwhile, H&M is in seven cities and is looking at tier II and tier III cities as well. However, the retailer does not have plans to start an online store. “For now the focus is on opening more stores," said the spokesperson.

Zara is one of the fastest growing apparel and lifestyle brands in India and had a revenue of Rs842.57 crore in the year ended 31 March 2016, up 17% from the previous year. H&M is still to report revenues for a complete year of operations in India.

India’s apparel market is expected to grow at 12% to $67 billion in 2017 from $60 billion in 2016, according to Harminder Sahni, founder and managing director of retail consultancy Wazir Advisors.

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Updated: 05 May 2017, 12:48 AM IST
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