Betting on larger stores, wider variety.

Growth plans

Versace, Oakley and Nike Golf are increasing area and product assortments to draw consumer interest in what they consider one of the biggest markets in Asia.

Bindu D. Menon

New Delhi, Nov. 11 Niche luxury retailers are putting expansions back on track after a brief hiatus. Despite foreign direct investment restrictions, companies such as Versace, Oakley and Nike Golf are increasing area and product assortments to draw consumer interest in what they consider one of the biggest markets in Asia.

“India is one of the strongest markets in Asia and this is where we are looking to establish our product line. Until now, we were cautious with expansion but now we will be making a lot of noise. The appetite for luxury products is huge. We are exploring means to entrench ourselves here,” Mr Scott Bowers, Senior Vice-President (Global Marketing and Brand Development), Oakley Inc, said. The premium sunglass brand is not restricting itself just to shades but also looking to venture into India with its range of footwear and apparel.

Similarly, Versace is back with a standalone format in the Capital. After eight months of setting foot in India, the company is going ahead with its second outlet with a much larger area and product range.

Blue Clothing Company, which brought Versace to India, said it is also seeking a greater presence for other premium brands such as Corneliani and Cadini, besides high-end jewellery brand Entice, in India soon.

“The purchasing power in India is a major factor while considering expansion. We will keep looking at opportunities in markets where we feel they are growing. The slowdown in our business is a temporary one and we will keep looking at opportunities to grow our business,” Mr Marc Duhm, Wholesale Director, Versace, said.

The second Versace store, which has a size of about 4,000 sq ft, is one of the largest Versace outlets in the world. Versace is also mulling increasing the floor space in its Mumbai store, an exclusively accessories outlet. “We will be adding an apparel line to the Mumbai outlet as well.”

The Blue Clothing Company Executive Director, Mr Abhay Gupta, said consumers are seeking high-end brands and that purchasing power is back with a bang.

“We have had a good response to Versace. Our next venture will be to launch high-end jewellery brands in India. However, easing of FDI norms will help the industry grow,” he said, adding that premium brands enable value addition by helping to improve retailing experience and manpower training.

Industry analysts note that the premium and super premium category has been growing at about 30 per cent per annum in India.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated November 12, 2009)
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