Birla plans big expansion of lifestyle retail chain

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Birla plans big expansion of lifestyle retail chain

Post  Anand on Wed Aug 20, 2008 3:18 pm

BANGALORE: Kumar Mangalam Birla is putting his best foot forward almost 10 years after storming the fashion space with the acquisition of Madura Garments. In his most ambitious retail foray move, he is scripting India’s high-street luxury retail play similar to Barneys or Harvey Nichols.

Madura Garments Lifestyle Retail Company, a 100% subsidiary of AV Birla Nuvo, is working on setting up 12-14 stores to meet the fashion needs of the urban Indian man. The new store chain — The Collective — will open doors in Bangalore, Mumbai and New Delhi initially.

The retail initiative will bring in some of the world’s edge of the fashion, super-premium brands like 7 For All Mankind and True Religion to India for the first time. Then there is the enduring high-end names like Kenneth Cole, Ted Baker and Valentino entering the market through a distribution deal.

Going beyond apparel and accessories play, the company has roped in Paris-based Jean Claude Beguine to set up salon within the stores while Sonodea from the US will decide the music for the store. The retail chain is also enlisting the leading names on Saville Row for tailored suits, besides offering laundry and fabric-care services.

“There should be more than one reason to come to our stores,” says The Collective CEO George Santacroce, who has in the past steered several international brands in the US market. Mr Birla’s luxury foray is targeted at men in the 30-45 age bracket, with income ranging from $50,000 to $200,000. AV Birla Nuvo will invest around Rs 275 crore from internal accruals in the project over the next 3-4 years, adds company director Vikram Rao.

Mr Santacroce says the chain will essentially be a bridge between premium and luxury brands, with some degree of overlapping with luxury market. “There’s a long list of brands entering India’s pureplay luxury segment, and we leave that space to them,” he adds. However, be sure to find the apparel pricing in the store in the range of Rs 4,000 to about Rs 1 lakh for a suit.

So the brand check list will include Armani Collezioni, Versace Collection, Z-Zegna, Cheap Monday, Rock & Republic and footwear and accessories brands like Puma Black, Mandarina Duck, Bally and Church’s Footwear. It is believed that The Collective has inked agreements with 35 apparel and around 20 accessories brands.

“Accessories are the first acquisition in an emerging market as people change their bags, shoes and watches more readily,” says Mr Santacroche.

Anand

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