Mafatlal Group to take 'Valentino' to Mumbai

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New Delhi, Aug 6: Mumbai socialite and President of Mafatlal Luxury, Sheetal Mafatlal, has formally extended her association with the Italian haute couture brand Valentino, and plans to expand its India presence in Mumbai too by the end of 2007.

Valentino, with a portfolio of products including clothes, accessories and footwear, inaugurated its first showroom here yesterday.

The Marzatto Group that owns Valentino and other brands like Hugo Boss, Missoni and Marlboro Classics, has entered into a franchising and licensing agreement with Mafatlal Luxury (P) Ltd.

''This will be a mono-brand showroom since we want to maintain exclusivity. The brand will be extended only to the metros. After Delhi, we plan to set up a showroom in Mumbai by the end of 2007,'' Ms Mafatlal told reporters at the inauguration.

On investments, Ms Mafatlal -- whose wedding lehenga, made by trousseau veteran Pallavi Jaikishen, cost Rs 9 lakh-- said this entire year is a year of investments. ''We have spent about a million dollars in setting up this single showroom.'' With India on the verge of a luxury boom, there is a big potential in the luxury market here, Valentino CEO Michele Norsa said, adding that the company was looking for a place in luxury malls in India.

''We have plans to get into malls, but the entire concept of high-end luxury malls is non-existent as of now. India will take time to get onto the level of the luxury markets abroad.'' However, Mr Norsa said India is likely to become one of the major fashion hubs in the next five to ten years.

Valentino, with products ranging from Rs 20,000 to Rs 3,00,000 onwards apiece, includes brands like Valentino, Valentino Garavani, Valentino Roma and R E D Valentino.

Brands such as Valentino, Mr Norsa felt, can expand their presence if the duties are reduced considerably. ''The duties are still heavy on such niche products.'' The Valentino Fashion Group operates in over 1,000 countries, with more than 1,200 single-brand boutiques and 208 directly-managed shops.

A recent FICCI survey has estimated that the Indian luxury goods market is worth 445 million dollars out of a 69.4 billion dollar global market.

According to industry sources, international brands like Armani has signed up with Madura Garments of the Aditya Birla Group, while Christian Dior is opening its first store in Delhi early next year followed by Mumbai.


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