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Reliance buy 52% of top Indian fashion label in luxury bet

Credit: REUTERS/Amit Dave

The retail unit of Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries has acquired a 52% stake in popular designer labels of Ritu Kumar, the company said on Tuesday, in the latest bet on the country's fast-expanding luxury designer market.

By Abhirup Roy and Aditya Kalra

MUMBAI, Oct 19 (Reuters) - The retail unit of Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries RELI.NS has acquired a 52% stake in popular designer labels of Ritu Kumar, the company said on Tuesday, in the latest bet on the country's fast-expanding luxury designer market.

Reliance Retail did not disclose financial details of the transaction, but said its majority stake acquisition included buying out the 35% stake held by Everstone Capital in India's Ritika Pvt Ltd, the company that owns Ritu Kumar brands.

"We are looking at the top 20 million customers in India. Not 1.3 billion. The discretionary wallet spend on products of the top 20 million customers is what we remain focused on," Darshan Mehta, CEO of Reliance Brands, which manages such luxury partnerships for the group, told Reuters in an interview.

"If there is opportunity to be acquisitive in nature and a whole host of things are right, we're there."

Kumar - best known for her ethnic designs - runs her flagship namesake brand, with her list of customers including top Bollywood actors Aishwarya Rai and Priyanka Chopra.

Some of Kumar's wedding outfits are priced as high as 800,000 rupees ($10,660), according to her website.

Just last week, Reliance bought a 40% stake in a fashion house run by another popular Indian designer, Manish Malhotra. And in January, Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail bought a 51% stake in the Sabyasachi brand, best known for its high-end wedding wear.

After being battered by the COVID-19 pandemic, India's retail and luxury market is making a comeback. With high pent-up demand, Darshan said India's ongoing festive season is "possibly going to be the finest" as consumption will surge in the next four to five months.

Reliance Retail, the country's biggest retailer run by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, also has partnerships with global brands such as Burberry and Jimmy Choo through joint ventures and franchises.

(Reporting by Abhirup Roy; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Bernadette Baum)

((abhirup.roy@thomsonreuters.com; + 91 22 6180 7067; Reuters Messaging: abhirup.roy.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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