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French fashion brand Kiabi plans to sell online first in India

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Kiabi’s potential entry into India comes after the French company’s sister brand Decathlon is making waves in India with its affordable sportswear and sports equipment

New Delhi: In a change of its India entry strategy, French affordable fashion brand Kiabi is now planning to make its debut here through online platforms instead of its earlier plans to foray here with brick-and-mortar stores first, according to two people familiar with the plans.

“They were planning to open stores in metro cities to begin with and were in talks with a host of malls. But now they have decided to go online first for India,” said one of the persons.

Kiabi’s potential entry into India comes after the stupendous success of the French company’s sister brand Decathlon, which is making waves in India with its affordable sportswear and sports equipment.

The online foray is also aimed by the French fashion brand to test the waters and gauge the country’s market before opening its full-fledged physical stores.

A host of global brands including Under Armour and Italian jeans brand Replay and Dutch fashion brand Scotch & Soda among others have previously adopted the strategy to sell their wares in India through e-commerce prior to opening brick-and-mortar stores. Online entry is considered an easier and cheaper option for bands to gain a foot in the door without needing to make heavy investments in physical stores as real estate is expensive.

The person cited above said Kiabi has already started dialogue with e-commerce platforms including Myntra and Ajio for a possible tie-up and the French retailer is expected to start selling online in the coming months.

Kiabi did not respond to a questionnaire from IndiaRetailing.

The ready-to-wear clothing brand Kiabi is owned by The Association Familiale Mulliez (AFM), the group that also owns sportswear label Decathlon and supermarket chain Auchan among other retail brands. Decathlon is among the band of global brands that have been extremely popular and successful in India. Decathlon’s India sales jumped 37% to Rs. 3,955 crore in the fiscal year ending March 2023, buoyed by the increasing number of young Indians taking to fitness and sports.

“Kiabi has been talking to malls last year but afterwards they sort of became inactive,” said a top mall executive whose shopping centre was in talks with Kiabi, a brand that offers fashion for men, women and kids.

Kiabi was founded with a store in 1978 in Roncq, France. Currently, the company that is based in Hem, in the north of France, operates more than 500 stores in 14 countries including Spain, Italy, Russia, France and Morocco.

Kiabi also sells its affordable clothing for men, women and kids to more than 20 million online shoppers in 39 countries through its platform kiabi.com.

In India, Kiabi will not only compete with global competitors including H&M, Gap, Jack & Jones among other labels but also with Indian upstarts including Tata Group’s Zudio, Reliance Retail’s Azorte and Yousta.

Kiabi calls itself a “100% designed in France” fashion brand. It boasts 60 French designers, collectively known as Trends Lab, that create fashion items to be sold through its network of stores and online.

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