India – Tiffany’s comes to India with Reliance Brands, six years after Cartier

tiffanySo finally, Tiffany’s has also made its way to India. This was inevitable, in view of the lackluster global markets, what with the trade war between US and China. While the economy in India is not exactly booming at this point, the future is bright, and seasons do change. To its advantage, Priyanka Chopra’s engagement ring drama did create advance rebranding within India. For its India operations, Tiffany & Co has entered into a JV with Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Brands Limited (RBL). RBL already has over 30 international luxury brands in its portfolio,retailed via 470 stores and 340 shop-in-shops in India, and has recently acquired the iconic British toy brandHamleys for £68 million in a cash deal with a subsidiary of Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries (RIL).Philippe Galtié, the executive vice-president of global sales for Tiffany & Co reportedly said, “As a global luxury jeweler with stores in many of the world’s most important cities, Tiffany’s emergence in these Indian commerce centers with their growing luxury consumer base presents a unique opportunity.”

It is not yet clear if the Indian stores will have the entire Tiffany’s portfolio, which also includes sterling silver, china, crystal, stationery, fragrances, water bottles, watches and personal accessories, leather goods.Tiffany operates 320+ stores in more than 25 countries, of which there are over 80 in Asia-Pacific. It also retails via its e-commerce websites in 14 markets.

The projections are upbeat and rely on the Indians’ fixation for jewelry and vanity to buy such iconic brands from the US. We will find out soon enough, if the Indian elite will make a rush for its famous wedding bands and rings. Perhaps the immediate competition it will have is with the equally old French jeweler Cartier, the once much favored jeweler of the Indian Royal Houses, opened its first store in India in 2008 in Delhi, shut shop, and returned in early 2013. There is also Bulgari, which shares the same floor with Cartier, in the Emporio Mall in Delhi.

Every region in India has its own jewelry brands that have been around for generations and have built a strong buyer base, and have an understanding of the cultural requirements and ethos. Their younger scions have trained in the premium institutes of gemology in the world, interned with the leading brands, and have successfully evolved with more contemporary jewelry. An example of this is Ganjams of Bengaluru. The Tata’s luxury jewelry brand Zoya too has established its brand, leveraging Indian artisanship and international designs. Tiffany also has a policy of not buying back its jewelry once sold. This may not go down well within India, where jewelry is perceived as an investment to be cashed should the need arise. Given the size of the market, and our insatiable urge for buying jewelry for every festival (Rakhi, Karva Chauth, Akshay Tritiya and more), there is room for variety always.

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