Matrix steps up India push, puts $10 mn into Murjani Group

Matrix steps up India push, puts $10 mn into Murjani Group

Venture capital firm Matrix Partners India has invested $10 million (Rs39.3 crore) in luxury and premium goods distributor Brand Marketing India Pvt. Ltd (BMI), promoted by the Mumbai-based Murjani Group. BMI has exclusive licensing rights to top global brands, including Gucci, Jimmy Choo, French Connection, Calvin Klein, La Perla and Bottega Veneta.

The Murjani Group, led by Mohan Murjani, has a long history in the retail business in India, starting with the making of Gloria Vanderbilt jeans in the 1970s and rights to the brand Tommy Hilfiger in 2004.

This is the first investment by Matrix from its expanded $450 million corpus allocation for India.

Last year, the firm raised its corpus from $150 million to $450 million with a stated intent to move into larger deals, specifically in the growth stage. Until now, the firm has typically invested in early-stage companies, notably, online local information provider Four Interactive Pvt. Ltd (AskLaila) and online movie rental company Seventymm Services Pvt. Ltd. With the expanded corpus, Matrix has also been looking for deals with foreign multinational brands wanting to be in India.

Rishi Navani, co-founder and managing director, Matrix Partners India, said they see a growing market for luxury goods, and plan to invest a total of $20-25 million in BMI, which is headed by Vijay Murjani, over a period of time.

Loyal Indian customers of these brands, who shop in Singapore, Dubai or Hong Kong, are expected to start shopping here. “In Dubai duty-free, 35% are Indian shoppers," said Navani, “we are bringing this home."

In addition to bringing back the market, new consumers are expected to emerge as disposable incomes increase.

Luxury retailers in India have been trying to expand their markets for some time.

One of the main challenges has been finding real estate that is suitable for creating a luxury shopping experience, in addition to finding well-trained staff and advertising that reaches the target market.

As for the BMI brands, they are already sold in Mumbai’s Shopper’s Stop, Hilton Towers and Vama, and will be part of Delhi’s luxury mall DLF Emporio, as well as UB City in Bangalore.

Although places such as these will be coming up, Navani said, it will remain a challenge to find the right retail space for these goods as BMI expands and to handle the high rental rates for the existing retail.

But, he said, luxury goods are a longer-term play and most expect the market to take off in 5-10 years.