NEW DELHI, India — Eyeing a slice of India’s $550 billion retail market, Dutch lingerie brand Hunkemöller has revealed plans to launch in India with an exclusive, long-term franchise agreement with Reliance Brands Limited.
Hunkemöller has 700 stores globally, and is a strong player in European markets. The company had sales of 400 million euros, or $435 million at current exchange, in 2014.
Reliance Brands, a subsidiary of the $70 billion Reliance Ltd., has become a growing force in the retail space, and has brought more than a dozen brands to India including Steve Madden, Diesel, Brooks Bros., Ermenegildo Zegna and Superdry. Although it has a large portfolio of fashion brands, this is its first foray into the lingerie segment.
In India, Hunkemöller will compete with brands such as Marks & Spencer and La Senza.
Philip Mountford, chief executive officer of Hunkemöller, said that the company would build its “branded footprint within the Indian market with speed and efficiency.”
“We will open five to six stand-alone stores within the first year,” most of which will be about 1,000 square feet, said Darshan Mehta, president and chief executive officer of Reliance Brands, told WWD. “We clearly see growing from zero to 30 in five years’ time,” he said.
The Indian innerwear market, which industry estimates set at about $5 billion, is expected to grow at a 13.2 percent compound annual growth rate until 2020, according to analysts. A report by consulting firm Technopak indicates that one of the main reasons for the fast-changing market is the increase in spending power as more women join the workforce. “Women are associating innerwear with special occasions and different usage options,” the report noted.
International brands such as Triumph and Jockey have a strong presence in India; others such as Japanese lingerie brand Wacoal will be launching this year as well.
“The lingerie market in India has a powerful scope for growth,” said Mehta. “Since there are few brands on the market, the supply creates a demand. The market has been a growing sub-segmentation of the wardrobe. This is just beginning to become a reality in India — to shop differently if you’re going for a beach holiday or for a bridal event, a casual weekend wear, the gym or an active life,” Mehta observed.
Hunkemöller is growing its global footprint — its first store in the United Arab Emirates opened in April and it’s expected to launch in Panama this year.