NEW DELHI — The Indian government on Wednesday approved foreign direct investment, or FDI, in single-brand retail by four retailers — French brands Promod, Decathlon and Le Creuset and U.S. firm Fossil Inc.
The four companies will invest a total of 7.5 billion rupees, or about $140 million, in India, according to an official of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board.
According to officials, Fossil Inc. and Decathlon, both of which already are present in India, applied for 100 percent FDI. Promod, which first entered India with a franchise agreement that was changed to a joint venture with Indian company Major Brands in 2012, continues to look at a joint venture model. Promod is in nine locations at this time, including New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore.
Decathlon, the giant sports retailer, will bring in foreign equity of 7 billion rupees, or $130 million, officials said. Promod and Fossil are smaller, at 300 million rupees, or $6.1 million, and 220 million rupees, or $4.1 million, respectively.
“The move to invest directly in the Indian market for all three brands is a demonstration of longer-term commitment and confidence,” said Devangshu Dutta, chief executive of Third Eyesight, a specialist consulting firm focused on the consumer products and retail sector. “For these and other brands who have joint ventures or subsidiaries in India, the engagement goes beyond the financial investment, it also needs a commitment of senior management time and attention.”
He said that Promod’s move from a distribution or franchise arrangement to a joint venture has “been in the pipeline for a while. Fossil has also been distributing through various channels, and a fully owned retail business will enable them to take direct control of how the brand interfaces with the discerning Indian consumer. Decathlon entered the market about three years ago with a fully owned cash-and-carry [wholesale] venture, which has given them an advance insight into the market; the change to a retail business will now enable them to directly tap into the growing consumer demand for sporting goods and sportswear in the country.”
Allowing foreign direct investment in retail has been a politically sensitive issue for the last decade, and 100 percent FDI in single-brand retail was permitted only in September 2012. Global retailers are now looking at the Indian market with a different perspective to evaluate the long-term gains and the potential of a retail market that is still growing at more than 20 percent a year.