The first Juicy Couture stores in India are expected to open in fall 2015.
That’s according to Darshan Mehta, president and chief executive officer of Reliance Brands Ltd.
Reliance, a key distributor in India for the premium-to-luxury fashion categories, will open the stores under a newly inked licensing agreement with Authentic Brands Group, which owns the intellectual property assets of Juicy.
Under the terms of the agreement, 20 Juicy monobrand stores will be opened over the next five years. The stores will feature the full Juicy lifestyle collection for women and girls, ranging from apparel to accessories and fragrance to footwear.
According to Mehta, the agreement is for 20 years. Jamie Salter, chairman and ceo of ABG, said Reliance has “exceptional operational and market knowledge and our partnership with them will allow us to drive a comprehensive, multidimensional strategy to bring Juicy Couture to new international markets.”
While brands from Michael Kors to Coach to Abercrombie & Fitch have found sales of logo products in the U.S. petering out, that’s not the case in India. “India, like the other Asian markets, are new-money markets. This is first-generation money and the consumers like to announce their arrival. The logo tracksuit or the logo bag tend to work well. People like to proclaim the brands,” he said.
Mehta’s firm, a part of Reliance Industries Group, was started in October 2007 for the purpose of launching and building international fashion brands focused in the luxury and premium markets. Other brand partners in its portfolio include Steve Madden, Kenneth Cole and BCBG through licensing agreements. Reliance is set to open BCBG stores in India during the spring. Brand partnerships via joint ventures include Brooks Brothers, Iconix Brand Group, Diesel and Ermenegildo Zegna.
“People are optimistic, which bodes well for consumer spending. In discretionary spending, you don’t buy because you run out of a jacket. It’s about the feel-good factor and consumers [in India] are feeling good about the future. We’ve already seen in July, August and September the biggest [selling] season in the past quarter. We normally don’t have a strong summer season because most of the rich travel overseas when the country is hot and warm [and they come back in the winter]. The Indian New Year in October is when you’ll see people spend on clothes, and on jewelry when they get married,” Mehta said.
He attributed the optimism to India’s new prime minister, Narendra Modi, who came to power in mid-May and who is on his first visit to the U.S. since taking office. “The entire economy has dramatically changed. This is the first time [in a long while] in which we have an elected government that won an absolute majority, so there’s no need for a coalition partner. The party can now do very strong and great things. Since the election the currency has appreciated and [gross domestic product] growth is at a high. Inflation is under control and the economy is in extremely good shape,” Mehta said.
While consumers might be in the mood to spend — according to Mehta, there’s an undersupply of women’s fashion brands — they might still have to wait for Juicy stores to arrive at their nearby malls. Mehta said real estate is expensive in India due to the country’s infrastructure, and while he’s already scouting for locations, he’s going to open just one or two to start. “It’s more lucrative to build a residential building rather than a shopping mall. The markets in India are far ahead of supply. It’s about how do you reach your customer, rather than about the existence of that customer,” Reliance’s ceo said, adding, “Even in Bombay, there’s not more than two malls in which I would put up Juicy stores.” Indian consumers who don’t have a nearby Juicy store can purchase the brand’s products at the Juicy Couture Web site.
Product for the Juicy stores will be bought from Global Brands Group, the Hong Kong-based company that is the wholesale licensee for the brand.