NEW DELHI — Having opened its first store in India, BCBG Max Azria is looking at the country as a step forward in its global expansion plan.
“We’re looking at India as an important market,” Sophie Rietdyk, president of licensing and international at BCBG Max Azria Group, said. The brand launched in Australia earlier this year; China, Hong Kong and Macau are still in the cards.
The 1,100-foot-store opened on the first floor of luxury mall DLF Emporio in South Delhi, which houses brands such as Armani, Christian Louboutin, Bottega Veneta, Christian Dior and Chanel.
“The beauty of launching and partnering a brand like BCBG is that the brand arrives much ahead of the store,” said Darshan Mehta, president and chief executive officer of Reliance Brands, with which the group signed a license last year. He was referring to the fact that BCBG’s brand awareness in India is already high, as Indians have become frequent global travelers.
He said a second store would open in Mumbai soon, at the Palladium mall.
The $550 billion Indian retail market has been growing in double digits over the last five years. Reliance Brands, a subsidiary of the Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries, has brought more than a dozen brands into India, including Ermenegildo Zegna, Kenneth Cole, Paul & Shark, Iconix and Quiksilver.
Launching with the spring collection, almost half the store is focused on dresses with some sportswear in the entryway, and a lot of tops. “We’re offering really the full range of products. As we go along we will see what sells best and be able to curate the offering better,” said Rietdyk.
Prices range from 4,000 rupees, or $64 at current exchange, to 40,000 rupees, or $640.
BCBG Max Azria has more than 1,000 points of sale in 41 countries. “In the U.S., we are in all the malls we should be. So the international market is definitely going to be the focus now. We have a strong positioning in Europe, the Middle East and South America,” said Rietdyk.
Asia and the Middle East account for 45 percent of global sales, Europe 25 percent and the Americas 30 percent.
Asked if BCBG wasn’t late in arriving in India — sales at Zara and Mango in India have shown Indian consumers’ thirst for Western brands — Rietdyk said the timing was well planned. “You know, when we launched in China back in 1998, it was too early. So the right timing is when the luxury brands are well established and when the customer is used to Western and international brands. We are targeting the customer who has experienced these and wants something different,” she said.
BCBG pulled out of China three years ago and plans to go back in a different format, including into Hong Kong and Macau.
Talking about the difference in the Indian market since a previous visit three years ago, Rietdyk observed that retail in India had grown significantly. “The zoning is being worked on seriously, that’s what I noticed,” she said.