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‘No Major Brand Can Overlook India’

In an interaction with Taniya Tikoo, he talks about the Indian market and the economic ties between the countries

In 2017, French luxury labels Celine and Cifonelli joined the 400 French companies that are present in India to make the most of the growing luxury market. In 2016, the luxury sector in India was worth $18 billion, and is growing at 25 per cent annually. French ambassador to India Alexandre Ziegler believes India is a country no major brand can overlook. In an interaction with Taniya Tikoo, he talks about the Indian market and the economic ties between the countries.

Excerpts:

Q: A large number of French luxury brands are present in India today. How important is India as a market to them?

India’s luxury sector, worth over $18 billion in 2016, is booming. With an estimated 25 per cent annual growth rate in this sector and India ranking among the top three wealthiest (people) in the world, this is a market where major French luxury brands had to venture.

Q: Are we likely to see any collaborations between France and India in luxury goods? Can we expect French companies to increase their sourcing from India? 
Luxury in India is certainly also about exclusivity, traditional knowledge and local expertise. The Paris-based House of Lesage, for instance, established Vastrakala, which employs third-generation Indian embroiderers for high-end products custom-made for an international clientele.

Q: If the India-EU FTA (free-trade area) is signed, will it help rebuild the French civil- rebalance trade?
French companies did not wait for the FTA to be signed to be active in India. Beyond the figures of our bilateral trade, India and France have vibrant economic ties. Over 400 French companies are well established in India — they make, invest and innovate in India. That said, concluding a bilateral investment treaty would be a win-win situation. It would have the advantage of accelerating investments, encouraging capital inflows, technology and expertise from both France and Europe. As for exports, the custom duties imposed in India are among the highest in the world. Obviously, the India-EU FTA would boost trade in goods. This boost  would work both ways.

Q: French labels Celine and Cifonelli were recently launched in India. Why now?
India is a market that no major brand can overlook, considering the economic growth and increasing demand of consumers with high purchasing power for iconic international luxury brands. Other markets are slowing down, an added reason to focus on the opportunities in the Indian market.

Q: Do French fashion labels see India as a deep-pocketed market? 

Yes, they do, and there is also the matter of timing. With India’s economic growth and an upsurge of the upper-middle class, consumers will be gradually spending more on personal items.

Q: How different is India as a market for luxury goods compared to other South Asian countries? 
In the immediate region, India is no doubt the most economically developed economy in terms of growth and emerging consumers with high disposable income earmarked for luxury products.

Q: Which luxury segment has the highest revenue potential in India? 
Some studies have shown that the increasing demand for luxury products has so far mainly targeted jewellery, high-end electronics and the automobile industry. Of course, French gastronomy, wines and ‘art de vivre’ also have the potential to attract greater numbers of the Indian public.

Q: The price-sensitive Indian market is becoming more aspirational. Will we see more French luxury labels in India? 
There is definitely place for a robust Indo-French business partnership in the luxury industry that will be beneficial for both countries.


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Magazine 28 October 2017 Luxury Special 2017


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