A bunch of luxury brands is preparing to launch stores in India to coincide with the arrival of the festive season, hinting at a boost for the industry after a two-month slowdown because of the extreme summer heat and general elections.

In Delhi, brands preparing to launch stores include accessories and shoe brand Aquazzura, perfumer Diptyque, crystals, glass and jewellery brand Baccarat, and menswear brand Golden Goose, among others. 

The store openings are spread across the three metros. In Mumbai, Tudor watches, a sister brand of Rolex, will open its first mono-brand store at the Jio World Plaza before the end of this fiscal. Clothing and accessories brand Amiri will also do a small popup in Delhi to get a flavour of the market. And in Bengaluru’s luxury mall, Mall of Asia, a Hublot watch boutique will launch by August-end to capture the business from the upcoming festive season.

The sales in luxury businesses are likely to see a gradual increase starting this month and achieve normalcy as the festive season approaches. 

“The market is seeing better vibrancy and a spike in business since June and now July,” Pushpa Bector, senior executive director of DLF Retail, said.

DLF Emporio, one of the country’s largest luxury shopping destinations, recently concluded its luxury shopping festival in May to induce additional demand. Over a two week period, customers spent about 30 crore at the festival, largely led by fashion and jewellery purchases.

Amit Pande, business head of The Collective & international brands at Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Ltd., said June saw a recovery for the sector following the summer and general elections.

“The industry expects that there will be good growth around the festive season,” said Pande.

The big luxe push

At the DLF Emporio, a new zone is set to launch for ‘pret’ or ready-to-wear ensemble collections of young Indian designers. 

The company’s other luxury shopping centre in the city, The Chanakya mall, will see a flagship Rolex mono-brand store along with a dozen new brands between October and November, including Diptyque, and Golden Goose. The mall will also see a second store launch from Swiss chocolate brand Läderach, which was brought to India by Dharampal Satyapal Group (DS Group).

There will also be a focus on opening a section for ‘home and gifting’ this season. Home and gifting’ is a whole new category for the luxury mall division now.

“We are also seeing an overall category broadening and so a widening of the luxury market. We now see an influx of more millennial and Gen Z ‘aspirational’ consumers, discovering luxury through digital media. This phenomenon is a classic indicator of growing disposable incomes and general economic well-being because many of them are getting added to the new buyer base,” Bector added.

“Walk-ins are declining across the world but online shopping is growing at a fast clip,” Pande of ABFRL said. “For us, due to strong client relationships, dependence on walk-ins is also limited.” 

Pande noted, however, that categories like leather goods and other accessories did not see as much of a slowdown as others like clothing. Within the clothing business, work-wear, which had earlier declined during the pandemic years, has now started to come back with categories like sweatshirts and loungewear seeing a tapering off. 

The company has a network of about 40 stores across The Collective, Ralph Lauren, Hackett London, Simon Carter, Ted Baker, Fred Perry and others. It will add five more stores to this count in the coming months. In 2025, Galeries Lafayette, a luxury department store that signed a partnership with ABFRL in 2022, will also open its doors with stores in Mumbai and Delhi.

The rise of luxury

A shifting focus on luxury brands has been a result of India’s economic landscape shifting over the years. Consumers are demonstrating a growing appetite for high-end goods and services, and the ultra-rich population is experiencing explosive growth, fuelled by rising disposable incomes. 

The burgeoning affluence has also meant there has been a noticeable growth in the luxury market, especially since after the covid-19 pandemic. The surge in disposable wealth is largely being generated by the boom in stock markets and real estate. By 2027, according to a report titled ‘The rise of ‘Affluent India’ by Goldman Sachs Research, the cohort of affluent consumers will increase from around 60 million people in 2023 to 100 million by 2027.

Since after the pandemic, when luxury consumption slumped in China, global luxury brands began to start targeting new geographies, one of which was India. This also coincides with the emergence of malls dedicated to the wealthy like Reliance’s Jio mall in Mumbai. Last year, ABFRL also inked a joint venture with shoe brand Christian Louboutin. Brands like Brioni have also expanded their footprint in India.

Watch sector may see some recovery

In the first five months of the current calendar year, India saw imports worth 94.2 million Swiss Francs or $105 million, a 20% growth over 2023, and 43% higher than the 66 million CHF or $74 million of 2022, per data from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH. 

While this number stands out, the increase was primarily driven by currency fluctuations, that is, the devaluation of the Indian rupee versus the CHF.

The watch industry may still feel the heat from that, according to Ashok Goel, founder of Delhi-based Luxury Time Pvt. Ltd, a distributor of luxury brands such as Hublot, Tag Heuer, Zenith and others. Goel said there was an overall marked slowdown in the luxury brand sales during the weeks leading up to the elections with most of the retail partners they work with, seeing a 15-20% lower customer traffic during the elections.

“The post election scenario did improve, though not to the extent of expected turn around. It could have been because of the various heatwaves, people travelling internationally for their holidays etc., too,” Goel said, adding that some trade partners also said that the high stock market valuation is leading to lower sales as the investments are moving there. 

“The industry could be 5-8% lower than last year in sales, barring a handful of the popular luxury watch brands,” he added. 

The company is preparing for the launch of a new luxury store for Hublot in Bengaluru with a planned opening in August. “We are also in talks with many new brands to be introduced in India,” he added.

Further, Richemont-owned luxury watch Panerai launched its new collection last Friday to add some impetus to the buying market. The watches are currently on multi-city tour in India to gauge buyer interest.

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