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Rediff.com  » Business » Shapoor Mistry to market Armani, Ralph Lauren, Diesel

Shapoor Mistry to market Armani, Ralph Lauren, Diesel

August 09, 2004 08:22 IST
Shapoor Mistry's wardrobe sports Diesel jeans, a Giorgio Armani shirt and a Ralph Lauren polo neck tee. And yes, just like Tata group chairman Ratan Tata and Wipro promoter Azim Premji, his favourite suit is Daks. So what?

If all goes well, the 40-year-old chairman of Forbes Gokak could well be the walking, talking mascot for his new venture.

Mistry will soon preach what he is already practising, oops, wearing. The Rs 408.5 crore (Rs 4.08 billion) textile-to-engineering group now wants to don a new garb.

In an attempt to present a 'with it' persona, Forbes Gokak will soon market international lifestyle branded apparel, the kind often patronised by Mistry.

Forbes Gokak, a part of the Shapoorji Pallonji group, is believed to be wooing foreign brands to join the Indian fashion parade. Hitting the ramp soon will be Saville Row, Giorgio Armani, Trussardi (leather products and boutique cafe), Diesel, Ralph Lauren and Burberry's.

They will be marketed by the company's new brand marketing division to tap the growing retail market, as a part of its forward integration. They will be sold through a mix of exclusive and multi-brand outlets.

Says Reetika Dalal, head of Forbes Gokak's upmarket brand division: "With branded retailing of apparel and lifestyle products growing in India, Forbes Gokak wants to be a part of the retail boom. Many international brands entering the Indian market are looking at partners with a solid financial back-up. That's where we fit in."

The company wants to trade its 237-year-old fuddy duddy image for a more contemporary look. But it isn't just relying on international brands for the face-lift. As part of its organic growth, it is also launching the Forbes range of men's apparel.

Established by John Forbes of Aberdeenshire in Scotland in 1767, Forbes is the oldest surviving company in India and one of the oldest in the world.

It forayed into apparel retailing when the Mistrys, the single largest shareholder of Tata Sons, acquired Forbes Gokak from the Tata group not long ago.

They then acquired the marketing rights of the premium British apparel brand Daks from Tata International. Forbes Gokak will shortly bag the rights for the UAE region as well.

The branded apparel market is estimated to be worth over Rs 10,000 crore (Rs 100 bilolion) and growing over 20 per cent a year. It remains to be seen if the deep pocketed Mistrys can make a dent here.

Reeba Zachariah in Mumbai