By  on February 24, 2005

NEW YORK — For Marvin Traub, ex-Bloomingdale’s chairman, deal-maker and international consultant, one destination has been most alluring. He’s traveled to India 15 times over the last 40 years in an ongoing journey of mercantilism and discovery.

After orchestrating Indian import promotions three times at Bloomingdale’s and assisting on one at Lord & Taylor over the years, he’s in a role reversal. Instead of bringing Indian products to the U.S., he’s launched a strategy of introducing American and European brands and designers to India, under a partnership formed in December with Mohan Murjani, called Murjani Traub India Ltd. The partnership intends to own and operate stores there, and establish wholesaling.

A year ago, Murjani attained the master license to open Tommy Hilfiger stores and distribute the designer’s merchandise in India. Traub said the partnership is negotiating with more than a half dozen “major” brands for similar rights, though he won’t say with whom just yet.

“I expect to launch another major brand in March or April,” said Traub, during an interview disclosing his latest overseas venture. Traub said he’s also advising developers and retailers in India on merchandising and expansion. He has known Murjani for 29 years, ever since Murjani launched Gloria Vanderbilt jeans and got his first major order from Bloomingdale’s. Murjani hails from Hyderabid Sind, an area in Pakistan that was formerly part of India.

Compared with the West, India is virtually devoid of American and European designer brands, aside from some fragrances and a few dozen designer shops in hotels and airports, including Hugo Boss, Zegna, Louis Vuitton, Bulgari and Mont Blanc. A handful of mass labels, like Lee and Levi’s, and some footwear brands, such as Nike, are present as well.

Murjani said the Hilfiger business in India will generate $20 million to $25 million in sales, at retail, in 2005. Hilfiger receives royalties off the sales, but Traub and Murjani would not disclose how much. There’s also a wholesaling and licensing dimension, with Hilfiger watches, underwear, sunglasses and shoes being distributed to about 100 retailers in India. For example, Titan, which owns 60 percent of India’s watch market, is the licensee for Hilfiger watches.

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