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Rs 50 lakh for a bag? No problem

September 19, 2003 12:32 IST

For LV Trading India, the distributor for Louis Vuitton products in India, business has been better than usual.

Ahead of the festive season of marriages, Diwali and New Year its shop at Delhi's Oberoi has been bombarded with bookings for its signature multi-coloured and black monogram bag.

Priced at Rs 60,000, the bag was sold out within eight months of Louis Vuitton's launch in Delhi.

The company also brought 12 limited edition 'I love you' bags from LV's Eye collection. Despite the Rs 1.28 lakh (Rs 128,000) price tag, the company not only exhausted its stock, it has nearly 80 fresh orders for the product.

Clearly, India's super-rich are ready to lap up the premium lifestyle goods faster than most  international brands had anticipated.

In Mumbai, Chopard is also stocking up on luxury watches for the Diwali season.

Chopard set up shop in the city two months back and introduced jewellery watches, jewellery, scarves, ties and other objets d'art priced upwards of Rs 1.20 lakh (Rs 120,000).

Wispy Patel, director Select Swiss Watches, claims that luxury brands are popular among the high net worth individuals in the country.

Patel should know. For, before bringing Chopard into the country he introduced Piaget and Vacheron Constantin.

And now besides brands  like Tiffany,  Mont Blanc and Hugo Boss, which are already here, European major Bvlgari and Italian suit brand Brioni are said to be coming to India soon. But how much do these brands sell? Most companies are shy of disclosing numbers.

But Tiffany & Co's store manager, Tara Dhillon, says: "The very fact that we've been operating since 1996 means that the venture is more than viable."

And if pre-orders for the Louis Vuitton products are any indication, the brands are doing brisk business.

According to Prasanna Bhaskar, retail manager at LV Trading, the company is ready to expand its portfolio.

On September 19, it launched trousseau bags, from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 50 lakh, for the wedding season.

Meanwhile, LV's success has rubbed off on its next door neighbour Hugo Boss too.

The brand that set up shop at Delhi's Oberoi at the end of June claims that it has already run out of stock on shirts, jeans and polo T-shirts.

"We've already placed orders for the next batch," says Shailesh Bajpai, store coordinator. The Hugo Boss suits cost between Rs 29,000 and Rs 54,000, while shirts are priced from Rs 4,900 to Rs 7,100.

"Looking at consumer demand, Hugo Boss may bring in its other two ranges -- the  Green (sport) and Orange (casual) labels as well -- in addition to the black range," says Bajpai.

The companies are exploring expansion. Both Louis Vuitton and Hugo Boss plan to open stores in Mumbai and the Taj Group is expected to open the Mont Blanc store soon.

Currently, Mont Blanc retails watches, jewelled cuff links, and leather products and pens from its  ITC's Maurya Sheraton boutique in Delhi.

Interestingly, the luxury product shops claim that nearly 60 per cent of their sales are in cash. "It is a sort of a parallel economy running here," observes Bhaskar.

But Patel feels that the Indian market has bigger potential. "Though the business is looking good, the Indian market is still immature. These brands will do well in India in the next 5 to 7 years," he predicts.

Maitreyee Handique & Mansi Kapur