Recent research by management consulting firm Third Eyesight shows that in spite of a rather lukewarm response to liberalisation of government regulation on foreign investment in retail, India remains attractive to global fashion and lifestyle brands.
The report “India - A Growth Trajectory for Global Fashion Brands” is 6th in the annual series of reports by Third Eyesight evaluating the strategies of the international fashion brands in the Indian market.
While the growth of new international fashion brands entering the Indian market has been slow over the last three years, there are already over 200 international brands present in the market.
Almost 30% of the international brands present in India are American while about a fifth of the brands are Italian. Other key countries from which the international fashion brands have originated are UK, France and Germany.
Further liberalization of policy on foreign investment in retail in September 2012 has not brought a flood of foreign brands and retailers. However, some of the existing brands have used the opportunity to increase their stakes in the Indian business including converting their Indian business to a 100% owned entity, thus demonstrating their longer-term commitment to the market.
At the operational level most brands have taken a cautious approach to retail growth focusing on operational efficiency and tapping Tier II markets and channels such as e-commerce to sustain their business. Levi Strauss, in fact, preferred to cut back on sales in order to focus on better margins.
2014 seems to be a promising year with brands such as H&M lining up their entry. Third Eyesight’s report states that “India is not just a short-term opportunity but a growth market that could possibly make significant contribution to the international brands’ global business in the future.”