Dutch lingerie maker Hunkemöller International BV is coming to India, for the first time in its 130-year history. The company has signed a long-term franchise agreement with Reliance Brands, an arm of Navi Mumbai-based Reliance Industries, on May 19.
Starting from January 2016, Reliance Brands will be setting up independent, standalone stores for Hunkemöller across major Indian cities. "We will start with three stores for Spring/Summer 2016, starting January and plan to open 20 stores over the next four-five years," said Reliance Brands president and CEO Darshan Mehta.
"Together, Reliance Brands and Hunkemöller will create a pan-India network of stores with the Hunkemöller brand across all retail channels," confirmed Hunkemöller in a statement. "Reliance has exceptional operational experience and their infrastructure has the ability to locate and build our branded footprint within the Indian market with speed and efficiency," said Hunkemöller CEO Philip Mountford.
"Lingerie is a supply constrained category where we are seeing growing demand. It has got redefined and upgraded itself from just necessity to fashion statement," Mehta added. "The company is also considering the beauty segment to expand its portfolio."
Hunkemöller's strongest markets are in western Europe but the company is also expanding steadily in Russia and the Middle East, especially in Saudi-Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain. The Amsterdam-based firm has currently almost 700 stores in 18 countries, of which 10 are run by professional franchises.
Reliance Brands' current portfolio of brand partnerships (franchise and joint ventures) include 16 international brands such as Diesel, Brooks Bros, Ermenegildo Zegna, Steve Madden and Superdry, among others.