NEW DELHI — Gap will open its first store in India on May 30, at the Select CityWalk mall in Delhi, and is pushing the buttons to make its presence known in India.
The countdown includes advertising, outdoor media, and a strong social media presence.
“I think the market couldn’t be more ready for the Gap,” Oliver Kaye, chief executive officer of the Gap Business at Arvind Lifestyle Brands Limited, told WWD.
Arvind Brands also operates stores for overseas brands including Next, Hanes, Ed Hardy, Nautica, Arrow, and U.S. Polo Association and is a subsidiary of Arvind Ltd., a textile major in India.
Kaye has moved to India for the job, bringing international experience — he was last at Tesco in the U.K., and was head of Calvin Klein India in 2008 and with the Murjani Group from 2008 to 2009.
“There is huge recognition for the brand and I think it will do phenomenally well in India,” he said of Gap.
The plan is to launch 40 Gap stores in the next five years, with about five to seven stores in the first financial year ending March 31, 2016, he said. While the first flagship will be 10,000 square feet, the rest will be about 6,000 to 10,000 square feet and include men’s, women’s, kids and babies, all under one roof.
With a pricing from 799 rupees, or $12.60 at current exchange, to 5,500 rupees, or $86.78, Kaye said that prices would be in line with Gap in the U.S.
Typically, brands offer higher price points in India, given high customs duties, rents and other costs.
Kaye said that the offering at the stores would be a global selection, and would be in line with global sourcing as well so that the customers who buy in the U.S. or London will be able to get the same collection in India.
Talking about the research done before the launch, he observed: “I think the biggest thing for me is the brand recall. So many people understand Gap here already. There is such an excitement about us opening here.”
As the Indian market has opened up to more global brands over the last few years, brands such as Zara, Mango and Forever 21 have been growing their presence in India. Industry analysts observe that 2015 is going to be a year of healthy competition in the apparel marketplace in India, with H&M opening later this year.
Kaye is optimistic about retail locations and growth as well. While many brands struggle to find the right retail space and negotiate rents, he does not foresee this being an issue.
“As we are approaching malls they are as excited to find the right opportunity for us as we are to work with them,” he said.
Until the store opens, the marketing build-up will continue.
“We’re doing a combination of outdoor, indoor around the mall, we’re doing a number of publications. But also what is huge nowadays is online – and our social network presence is big. Our Millennial customer expects to find us there,” said Kaye.
The apparel market in India has become one of the fastest-growing segments in retail, and brick and mortar retailers have been competing with e-commerce giants such as Amazon, Flipkart and Jabong, who have stepped up their presence in this segment.
Gap has been growing its international presence, and has stores in more than 25 cities in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The brand has almost 3,300 company-operated stores and around 400 franchise stores around the world.