Saturday, November 18, 2006

>Luxury brands still bullish on India growth

India growth story mirrors China’s economic surge. But China is a long way ahead of India in terms of the spread of luxury brands. Sample this: Rolls Royce tagged its India expectations at 10-12 Phantoms a year, versus 45-55 for China. It is, incidentally, also the third largest Bentley market after the US and Japan.

Consider this: Louis Vuitton has a mere two stores in India, compared to 12 in China and Cartier is planning to have 30 stores by ’09, up from the current 12. While India is warming up to an increased foreign luxury brand presence — Gucci, Prada, Ferragamo, Fendi, Chanel, Valentino — China is far ahead, with Goldman Sachs even predicting it may pip the US and Japan as the top market luxury brands market by ’15, with 29% share.

Luxury brands on record, however, maintain a diplomatic equivalence. Says Ferruccio Ferragamo, CEO of Salvatore Ferragamo Italia, “India, like China, is living a fantastic, incredible growth. The artistic and social life in India seems enthusiastic. Just think about Bollywood! We are confident India will continue to grow rapidly and the demand for luxury goods will go on increasing. India is a land of promise for luxury goods makers, a sleeping giant whose potential is only now beginning to emerge. To our mind India will be tomorrow what China is today.”

Agrees Trina Dingler Ebert of the luxury hotel brand Amanresorts, “There is no question that two of the most influential countries for the future economically are India and China. The speed at which each of their key cities are developing, inevitably gives rise to the presence of a luxury market in search of quality travel.”

Ravi Thakran, regional managing director, LVMH Watches Asia-Pacific, however, conveys a general onset of optimism. “China is already a key market for most luxury brands. It has fairly well developed retail infrastructure, reasonable tariff for imports and great macro environment for luxury to thrive. Today, there are very few brands that are not present in China.

India scores far poorer on all accounts as on date. However, we notice a change towards positive gaining pace and things could be different in next few years.” So maybe India will Raut China one day...!

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