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4 Global brands that are coming back to India

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India continues to be a favoured market for international brands owing to its huge retail potential. Here we list four brands that had earlier exited the country but are now staging a comeback, drawn by the promise of growth

Mumbai: India has emerged as the world’s fifth-largest global destination in the retail space and is expected to reach a whopping $ 2 trillion in value by 2032, according to a recent analysis by the Boston Consulting Group.

The Indian retail sector, as per JLL India’s ‘Evolving to a New’ study, is not only growing in terms of sales and revenue but is also undergoing a significant transformation. This transformation involves the introduction of new retail formats, increased investments from institutions, and the arrival of global brands in India.

The report emphasizes that India continues to be a favoured market for international brands. This preference is driven by factors such as higher consumer spending, greater participation from institutions, strategic partnerships with Indian retail chains, and a favourable regulatory environment.

In 2021, India saw 24 new international brands entering the market, many of them choosing to establish their presence in major cities like Delhi NCR, Mumbai, and Bengaluru, the report added.

Drawn by the prospects, several brands that had previously exited the country are also staging a comeback to tap into the potential and encash the increasing confidence of Indian consumers.

Here we list four such brands in alphabetical order…

  1. Dockers

Dockers, the California-based casualwear brand, is making a comeback in India through a partnership with the technology-driven retail platform, Ace Turtle.

Dockers had initially entered the Indian market in 2000 as part of its parent company, Levi-Strauss. However, it exited India in 2004.

After a brief hiatus, the semi-formal khaki brand returned to India in 2005 but faced another exit in 2009.

This departure was influenced by changing consumer preferences, with people shifting away from khaki towards denimwear and formal pants with blended fabrics, as per media reports.

With Ace Turtle as its exclusive licensee for international brands in India, Dockers plans to re-establish its presence both online and offline. The brand intends to open stores in key cities such as Bengaluru, Delhi, and Mumbai, as mentioned in a press release. Dockers, a division of Levi Strauss & Co., originally launched in San Francisco in 1986 and is currently available in over 50 countries worldwide.

2. Gautier

Gautier, the French home furniture designer, manufacturer, and global retailer, is embarking on its third entry into the Indian market. To ensure a successful return, Gautier has forged a strategic partnership with Franchise India, a franchise consulting firm.

The company’s re-entry strategy involves the establishment of stores ranging from 3,000 to 5,000 sq. ft., with a primary focus on metropolitan areas and major cities, particularly in the southern regions of India during the initial phase, as reported by various media.

Gautier first ventured into the Indian market in the late 1990s through a collaboration with K K Birla-owned Zuari Industries including the establishment of a local facility. However, in 2003, when the contract concluded, Gautier withdrew from the market. The company made another attempt in 2007, partnering with Ebony Retail and announcing plans to invest Rs 120 crore to open 20 stores. However, this endeavour faced challenges and did not achieve the anticipated success compelling the brand to once again retract from the market sometime around 2015.

3. Papa John’s

Papa John’s, the American pizza chain, is set to re-enter the Indian market with a renewed strategy. Media reports indicate that the company is embarking on an ambitious expansion plan by strengthening its partnership with PJP Investments Group, one of its long-standing international franchise collaborators.

The primary goal is to establish a network of 650 restaurants across India by the year 2033. The initial wave of these new eateries is scheduled for a grand debut in Bengaluru in 2024, with subsequent openings slated for various cities in South India, followed by a nationwide rollout.

Papa John’s had previously ventured into the Indian market in 2011 under a franchise arrangement with Om Pizzas and Eats. However, the company made the decision to close its restaurants in 2018 as it failed to scale the business with the partner as per media reports.

4. Shein

Shein, a prominent Chinese fast-fashion conglomerate, is set to make a comeback in India through a strategic partnership with Reliance Retail, a division of Reliance Industries.

Founded in 2008, Shein is well-known for its budget-friendly pricing and has garnered a strong following among the younger demographic, offering trendy womenswear and a diverse array of apparel. Through this collaboration, Reliance Retail aims to leverage Shein’s established brand recognition, advanced technological capabilities, and robust supply chain.

This development follows a two-year hiatus, during which the Indian government, in 2020, banned the Shein app along with several other Chinese applications, citing heightened tensions at the Galwan border between India and China.

However, recent reports from the Wall Street Journal suggest that the Indian government has given its approval for the Reliance Retail-Shein partnership, covering various aspects, including sourcing, manufacturing, and retailing of Shein products.

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