Sapna Agarwal, Mint
Mumbai, 14 December 2016
165-year-old luxury brand Bally is returning to India in a joint
venture with Reliance Brands Ltd, with plans to open its first store at
the DLF Emporio mall in New Delhi in March 2017.
Under the terms
of their agreement, the joint venture will invest in building a world
class retail experience by investing in training of staff and opening
Bally is the latest addition to the Reliance Brands
portfolio which includes Steve Madden, Thomas Pink, Brooks Bro’s,
Diesel and Super Dry. The company will establish a network of
stand-alone Bally stores across major Indian cities.
future, India is the most important country for us. We want to invest
and develop the brand in India,” said Frédéric de Narp, chief executive
officer of Bally who took charge in November 2013 to turn it around.
“Part of this turnaround strategy is the joint venture in India,” said
de Narp, who is credited with the successful turnaround of American
jeweller and watchmaker Harry Winston Inc.
Bally first entered
India in a franchise partnership with Bird Group, which has interests
in travel technology, hospitality and aviation. It had two stores in
India, one at the Palladium mall in Mumbai and the other at DLF Emporio
Mall. Both these stores have closed in the past two years. The
partnership was ended earlier this year.
This time round the
company has spent a few years finding the right partner and fine-tuning
its strategy for India. “We have been working in developing this joint
venture by developing the trust for the last few years,” said de Narp,
adding that more importantly, the joint venture is with Reliance, a
profitable company and a reliable retailer.
In India, Bally
will sell its entire range across men’s and women's footwear and
accessories. The new store will be part of the brand’s global expansion
which has seen the opening of two new concept flagships in Tokyo’s
Ginza and Los Angeles’ Rodeo Drive this year. The joint venture will
open four stores in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai in the next 3-4
years, said Darshan Mehta, chief executive officer, Reliance Brands.
its previous partnership, Bally which is part of JAB Holding Company, a
privately held group known for its brands like Jimmy Choo, Krispy Kreme
and Belstaff globally, “had underestimated the challenges in investing
in India,” admits de Narp. “Franchise is a challenging model,” he
added. De Narp is looking at investing this time to build a healthy and
sustainable business in India.
be sure, a majority of international retailers that have launched
operations in India have come through the franchise route in the last
4-5 years, said Devangshu Dutta, chief executive officer, Third
Eyesight, a retail consultancy firm. “Franchise model is a low-risk
approach for a retailer who is not entirely sure about the market. It
is about experimenting and exploring the market,” said Dutta, adding,
“However, once they have committed they prefer to invest.”