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Apparel brands go global

Go to the UK and you may just spot people sporting Spykar jeans. Ditto for Egypt where a dress bought for a little girl from one of the five Lilliput stores is no novelty. Saurabh Turakhia reports.
Hindustan Times | By Saurabh Turakhia, Mumbai
UPDATED ON JUN 08, 2008 08:58 PM IST

The affluent and upper middle-class in India may be lapping up the products that UK-based Mother Care has to offer.

But, go to the UK and you may just spot people sporting Spykar jeans. Ditto for Egypt where a dress bought for a little girl from one of the five Lilliput stores is no novelty.

Indian textiles and garment-makers have long been at the top of the export curve and apparel retailers are now catching up. With brands such as Lilliput, Spykar, Arvind Brands’ Arrow, Raymonds, Gini & Jony and Koutons available in countries as far away as Australia and as near as China, Indian apparel retailing is set to begin the next chapter in its growth story, with some of these brands testing the waters while others chalk up extensive expansion plans abroad.

Speaking to Hindustan Times, Sanjeev Narula, managing director of Lilliput, the kidswear brand said: "We have one store in China as of now and plan to have 15 stores of an average size of 600 sq feet by the end of this year. We also have five stores in Egypt, which we plan to push to 10 by this yea-end."

The company will spend Rs 75 crore each for the coming two years towards its domestic and international expansion.

Narula says that Egypt shows similarity to India as organised retail, though still at a nascent stage, is growing. He adds that the company expects contribution from international business to go up from Rs 120 crore to Rs 125 crore next year.

However, Sanjay Vakharia, marketing director of Spykar prefers to take the plunge at the right time, though a Spykar shop has been opened in both UK as well as Australia, to test the waters. "These are pilot projects for us and we will wait and watch for the next two years before deciding on specific plans in these markets", he said.

Some apparel retailers feel that such ventures would cost a lot in terms of real estate and brand-building expenditure. Suresh J, CEO, Brands and Retail, Arvind Brands says: "We have four exclusive Arrow stores in Dubai. However, our presence in markets such as Middle East, SAARC countries (Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal etc) and Africa (Kenya and South Africa) is in the organised retail markets and not through our own stores as the investments required are huge. Our brands are present in 30 stores outside India."

Shreyas Joshi, president of Raymond Apparel Ltd agrees: "We have 30 Raymond stores in Middle East, Bangladesh ad Sri Lanka but their contribution to the total turnover is less than 5 per cent. Our focus currently is on the domestic market."

But though the initial steps may be cautious, Indian retailers are upbeat on foreign expansion nevertheless. Rahul Mehta, president of Clothing Manufacturers Association of India (CMAI) said the organisation is planning interesting initiatives, "Next year, we will take a delegation through which many Indian brands will participate in China International Clothing and Accessories Fair." He added that brands such as Raymond, Killer, Zodiac, Gini & Jony, Lilliput and Koutons have made entry in the middle east or far east in China.

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