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FDI in luxury retail soon

THERE IS good news for retailers of luxury brands. Soon, single-brand retailers like Gucci or Hugo Boss could set up shop in India with foreign direct investment. Commerce Minister Kamal Nath indicated this while answering questions at the Hindustan Times Luxury Conference, which kicked off on Friday.

india Updated: Jan 14, 2006 11:26 IST

THERE IS good news for retailers of luxury brands. Soon, single-brand retailers like Gucci or Hugo Boss could set up shop in India with foreign direct investment. Commerce Minister Kamal Nath indicated this while answering questions at the Hindustan Times Luxury Conference, which kicked off on Friday.

"Luxury brands do not pose any threat to neighbourhood stores," said the minister. He said the government was formulating a policy to ensure they did not displace the neighbourhood kirana (grocery) stores.

Asked about FDI in the retail of high-end products, he said, "You'll not have to wait for long for this to happen." He indicated India's customs duties would soon move to Asean levels. Kamal Nath said India could create more jobs through indigenously designed luxury products.

The production of high-end fashion products is skill- and labour-intensive. For example, a typical high-end suit or exclusive pair of footwear is always hand-made and hand-stitched. This gives India a natural advantage in becoming an important hub for the production of such products.

Shobhana Bhartia, vice-chairperson and editorial director, Hindustan Times Media Limited, while welcoming the delegates, said: "Luxury and India have long been inextricably linked. India is too big a country for anybody to blindly follow." She urged foreign delegates to "not just look at us as a market but teach us how to market ourselves".

Ficci president Sajoj K. Poddar said: "We can create millions of jobs in luxury goods if we can have conducive policies.”

First Published: Jan 14, 2006 11:26 IST