Italian fashion major Benetton has tied-up with Trent Ltd, the retail arm of the Tata group, for a strategic partnership to market its premium Sisley brand in India.
"Though we have a five-year partnership with Trent on paper, we are looking at a long-term relationship with the group and this relationship begins with this project," Benetton's Executive Deputy Chairman Alessandro Benetton said while announcing the tie-up between the two giants.
Under the agreement, Trent will manage and operate the three existing Sisley stores in the Capital and also open and manage a number of new stores in India, beginning with Bangalore and Hyderabad. While Benetton would be providing the expertise and the product, Trent would act as the master franchisee for Sisley and would pump in money for the expansion.
"We would be investing Rs 40-50 crore in the venture over a period of five-seven years to open 20-30 stores," Trent's Managing Director Noel Tata said. The Sisley stores would be separate standalone stores and would not be clubbed with any of the existing Trent brands, including Westside, Landmark and Star Bazaar, he added.
"Benetton is the leader in design. This, along with our expertise and knowledge of the Indian real estate and retail market, will help us to tap new areas in a growing Indian market," he said.
Benetton admitted that though the group had always followed the franchisee route for its stores in India, this was the first time that they had such a big partner for any of their brands.
"We launched the Sisley brand in India last year and in one year, we have tested the waters and got a feel of the market. This has convinced us to expand in this line of business with the Tata group," Benetton said, adding, the group, through its United Colors of Benetton outlets, had seen a 70 per cent growth in the Indian market.
Alessandro Benetton, who joined the Benetton group's Board of Directors in 1998 is optimistic on the Indian market. "The Indian market is growing and we already have over 141 Benetton stores across the country. We are also looking at introducing our Play Life brand in India, though it is too early to make a projection of when this would be possible," he said. India was one of the fastest-growing markets for Benetton, which has now begun to penetrate to smaller cities across the country, he added. "In fact, we've just entered the Guwahati market and are looking at other smaller cities to expand our presence," a Benetton group spokesperson told
With the Indian customer becoming more quality conscious, Benetton felt that there could not be a better time to launch the Sisley brand in India. "We are conscious of the growing competition in this segment in the Indian market but we know that we would be able to ride it," Benetton said.