Mukesh Ambani owned Reliance Brands Limited (RBL) completed four years of operations in April 2014. From humble beginnings with just 30 employees and one store, RBL has gone on to become a critical part of Reliance Industries Limited’s (RIL) retail venture with more than 1000 employees and 150 stores. The number of brands has also increased to 40 and these include some of the most revered names in the world of fashion such as ErmenegildoZegna& Stuart Weitzman. Reliance Brands’ CEO Darshan Mehta says that the company is continuously looking to get more fashion brands including luxury ones to India in addition to solidifying the position of the existing ones. Also, RBL is looking to invest in Indian fashion labels.
The Way Up
While Reliance Brands has made significant inroads into the Indian fashion market, Mehta says that the company is still in investment mode as they continue to launch new brands and expand existing partnerships. The long-term target is to create great value in the fashion business. Because RBL has the backing of the entire top management at RIL, there exists an incredible amount of optimism in the brands journey to the top.
After four years, one of the most significant achievements of the chain is that they are now operating at a profit level at the store level. Most stores have been set a target of breaking even with 18 months of their launch.
Investing in Indian Fashion:
India is moving up in the fashion sector. Every year more Indian designers are seen at the top fashion shows in Paris, Milan and London. This and the amount of interest shown by consumers in couture from India is evidence that here is a value to be created by investing here. Mehta remains optimistic about the rise of Indian Fashion and maintains that if there is homegrown Indian talent which has a certain genre of design, aesthetics, business vision and scalability, then RBL would certainly be a strategic investor. What’s more the retail chain will provide supply chain infrastructure, marketing & sales support, other than putting money, unlike a private equity investor.
Also, the chain’s commitment towards the brands it sells in its store is a rarity in today’s time. “We have so far not got rid of a single brand,” says Mehta proudly. What if they do invest in an Indian Brand? “There are a handful of people, may be three or four. I have met everyone at some point in life. If we invest, it would be for a lifetime. Indian fashion is an interesting space. If we find something we will go there.” Clearly, things are looking up.