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Reliance Retail in talks to bring UK online fashion retailer Asos to India

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To begin with, Reliance Retail plans to sell Asos products through Ajio.com and offline through its Centro department store chain

New Delhi: Reliance Retail is in talks with British online fast-fashion retailer Asos Plc to bring the UK brand to India, two people familiar with the development said.

“Talks between the two parties have been on for a while now,” one of the persons said asking not to be identified. “However, an agreement is yet to be reached.”

If the agreement happens, Asos joins legions of global brands to partner for India with Reliance Retail, the country’s largest retailer by sales and by number of stores.

“As a policy, we do not comment on media speculation and rumours. Our company evaluates various opportunities on an ongoing basis,” a Reliance Retail spokesperson said in an email response. “We have made and will continue to make necessary disclosures in compliance with our obligations under the Securities Exchange Board of India (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations 2015 and our agreements with the stock exchanges.”

IndiaRetailing has also reached out to Asos through an email for its comment, which will be included once the UK company responds.

To begin with, Reliance Retail plans to sell Asos products through Ajio.com and offline through its Centro department store chain, the second person said. The second person said Reliance Retail could also open Asos-branded standalone stores in India. “Reliance will definitely sell Asos products on Ajio and in stores but may or may not have a dedicated Asos India e-commerce site,” he said.

He further said Asos has been sourcing out of India for years and with the Reliance Retail partnership will boost their sourcing out of India.

Asos—short for As Seen On Screen—has post-pandemic been reeling under low business amid fierce competition and an unsold pile of inventory. India could be a positive market for the UK brand to gain a foothold here, especially with a partner like Reliance Retail, analysts said. In its home market of the UK, Asos competes with traditional retailers like Marks & Spencer, Zara, H&M and Primark and also with online peers like Boohoo.com, Shein and Temu.

Generally, Asos sells its successful private brands on its platform. These are created by its design team in London even as the online retailer also stocks a gamut of global fashion brands including Tommy Hilfiger, North Face, Adidas, Carhartt and Elesse among other international labels.

Reliance Retail sells dozens of global brands in India including Armani, Burberry, Balenciaga, Diesel, Gas, Jimmy Choo, Marks & Spencer, Steve Madden and Gap among other labels through various joint ventures and franchisee agreements.

Like various other e-commerce platforms, Asos was raking in the moolah during the pandemic years as sales zoomed amid shoppers snapping up Asos’ hoodies, joggers, T-shirts, tracksuits and leggings. Flush with cash, the London-based online retailer in 2021 acquired the iconic Arcadia brands including Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT to bolster its portfolio of brands. However, lately business has been challenging for Asos amid dwindling sales.

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