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‘Prices must be globally competitive to encourage purchases in India’

Mumbai, January 24, 2007: Dealers in luxury brands today urged the Government to rationalise the taxation structure in the country so that luxury brands, which were still largely purchased abroad, were available at globally competitive prices to Indian consumers.

They also asked the government to look afresh at legislation like Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), Value Added Tax (VAT) and other duties in order to help promote the sale of luxury brands for which there was a sizeable demand within the country. Failure to ensure globally competitive prices would hamper sales within the country and end in this demand being met through purchases abroad.

They were answering questions on the top three concerns of luxury brand retailers at Images Fashion Forum 2007 at The Renaissance in Powai, Mumbai.

The speakers listed the lack of appropriate retail space and High Streets, resulting in them having to rent space in 5-star hotels at exorbitant prices as yet another hurdle to luxury sales in the country. Mr Sharad Kachalia, Marketing Head of Navnit Motors that sells Rolls Royce, BMW and Land Rovers, said the 112% tax on luxury cars was a barrier. Coupled with the poor road infrastructure, it resulted in customers ending up with the feeling that they were not getting value for their money.

The session, The Business of Luxury, which was anchored by Devyani Raman, CEO, Leading Brands of the World, included panellists Tarun Joshi, CEO of Brand House Retail, Mr Robert Hennin, Vice President & Country Head of American Express, Mr Davide Carelli of Giorgio Carelli, and Mr Sanjay Kapoor, Managing Director of Genesis Colors.

They said there was an emerging 97 million strong middle class segment with a huge consumer mindset who believed in demonstrating their wealth and wanted nothing but the best. They were also looking for ethnic chic and the fusion of global and local brands. Luxury retailers were keen to offer them contemporary products at contemporary pricing within the country despite the risks involved. In fact, global brands were even taking salespersons abroad for training in order to meet the shortage of trained manpower for luxury brands.

In the session on Brand Pride, Bill D’Arienzo, CEO, WDA BrandMarketing Solutions, USA, said branding was an internal and external exercise that involved igniting a passion for the brand among the employees while persuading consumers to embrace the brand. “It is an exercise that is driven by the CEO, involves all stakeholders, constant assessment and refining of every touchpoint and raising the bar continuously,” he said.

Other speakers at this session included Ishwar Chugani, Executive Director, Giordani Fashion LLC, and Jon Penrice, Executive Vice President, Apparel Global Marketing, Invista, Switzerland.

The last pre-lunch session was on Funding Fashion Future, anchored by Prashant Desai, Group Investor Relations & New Ventures (PE), and Future Group. The expert panel discussed the pros and cons of debt, equity and other funding to promote brands.

After a rocking evening yesterday, with an all-women band The Diva entertaining the Titans of the fashion brand industry, Day 2 of Images Fashion Forum 2007 opened today with a bang, with six teams vying for the first prize of Rs 1 lakh and the second prize of Rs 75,000 in prizes at the Fashion Retail Quiz sponsored by The Savile Row Company. But before the grand finale, several quiz enthusiasts in the audience also won attractive prizes offered by several other companies in the audience rounds.

Derek O’Brien was at his spirited best as he tickled and teased the teams from Benetton, Future Fashion House, Pantaloon, Shopper’s Stop, Spykar and Triumph to slug it out for the big prizes. Interestingly, in keeping with the theme of most speakers at IFF ’07 that Indian retail should rightfully find its place in the glamour world, many of the questions tested the participants on whether they knew as much about India’s traditional fashion arts like Phulkari, Chikan and Zardosi as they knew fashion trends of Paris, Milan and New York.

Ninety minutes of brain-teasing ended with Manish Kapoor and Sumit Dhingra of Benetton winning the first prize while Nikhil Chandra and Zahid Sheikh of Pantaloon walking off with the second prize of Rs 75,000.

Over 2,000 leading global and Indian names from the world of fashion branding, retailing, merchandising and the entire gamut of fashion retail support organizations are attending IFF ’07 at The Renaissance at Powai in Mumbai.

Amitabh Taneja, Chief Convenor of Images Fashion Forum (IFF), “Today’s sessions were thematically different from those of yesterday, with a focus on branding and funding the industry. There were several new learnings and key takeaways, both from developed retail destinations around the world as well as from emerging markets. We end this year’s event with our grand finale, our Lycra Images Fashion Awards.”

IFF spokesperson, Meher Castelino said: “Day two started off on a high note with a very enthusiastic audience supporting their respective teams in the Fashion and Retail Quiz hosted by Derek O’Brien. This was followed by a series of enlightening panel discussions and brainstorming sessions by Indian and international experts, for which we have received very positive feedback from the delegate contingent.”

Conceptualised seven years ago as a platform to prepare the fashion and retail industry to meet the needs of the emerging Global Indian seeking a global shopping experience at home, IFF ’07 has added interest this year with the current focus in India on organised retail and the current retail boom, the explosion of malls and entry of global fashion houses and retailers. IFF ’07 has brought together leading brands in clothing, footwear, watches, jewellery, beauty, home fashion & lifestyle that make up a huge Rs. 3,00,000 crore market.

For the first time in the history of branded fashion industry in India, Images sees the launch of the Future Fashion House ‘THE INDIA BRAND SHOW’ – showcasing fashion and style trends of 2007 by some of the most powerful brands – live on the ramp. Highlight of the IBS will be the Triumph show live.

One highlight of IFF ’07 is Fashion High Street with brand boutiques of Van Heusen, Dockers, Savile Row, Allen Solly, Reebok, Blackberrys, among others.

International companies representation include Channel, Bin Hendi Enterprises, Baccarose, Porsche, Benetton, Orra, Swatch, Pepe, Triumph, Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, Levi’s, Mango, Aldo, La Cenza, Adidas, and others.

International speakers include Carol Williams, President, May Co. Int., USA, Meg Lustman, Group Strategy and Development Director, Mosaic Fashions, UK, Catherine Dixon, Senior Analyst, GDR Creative Intelligence, UK, Bill D’Arienzo, CEO, WDA BrandMarketing Solutions, USA and Jon Penrice, EVP, Apparel Global Marketing, Invista, Switzerland, Klaus N. Hang, Editor & Publisher, Sportswear Int., Jeffrey Doltis, MD, The Savile Row Co UK and Aziz Merchant, Director – Brandz International Inc. UAE

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