India doesn’t have enough malls to open shops: Marco Bizzari, CEO, Bottega Veneta
Marco Bizzari, president and chief executive of Bottega Veneta, has no plans to expand the Italian fashion brand’s retail presence in India unless there is good infrastructure and more shopping malls. He is, however, optimistic about the Indian luxury market and plans a joint venture with its franchisee Genesis Luxury in the long run, Bizzari told ET’s Vijaya Rathore in an interview. Edited excerpts:
How has Indian market responded to Bottega Veneta so far?
The business in India is growing fast…in double digits. Of course, the size of the business compared to other markets is small. It’s just a matter of time that the obstacles – including lack of infrastructure – which are between the customers and the brand, are removed. It is a promising market as we know that Indians are really enjoying the brand in other countries as well. So I see a lot of opportunities in this market to grow.
What are the issues you face in India and how are you tackling them?
There are issues like high import duties and problems related to distribution. India does not have enough shopping malls to open shops. And if you open shops in a hotel, by definition the size is too small. So, the only way we could do our job properly here is to provide great customer service. We do everything in India that we do for our shops worldwide.
Are you considering having a joint venture with your master franchisee, Genesis Luxury?
It’s always under consideration. But I feel that the company, in a way, is still young and there are so many other markets that require attention. Besides that, the partner here is doing a good job, so why make any change? I am sure a joint venture is going to happen in the future, but at the moment we do not have any issue as the brand is properly represented here.
What is your retail expansion plan here?
At the moment, we have six shops and we need to build on them. We do not have any particular plan to open new shops unless we see opportunities.
Luxury brands have not started experiencing huge volumes in India yet. Why?
I will go back to the point of finding the right opportunity to open stores. Unless there is good infrastructure and new malls, it’s impossible to open shops. If you compare India to China, there is a huge gap. In China, there are a huge number of new malls. It’s huge. So, the point is that aggressive growth can come only when there is supporting infrastructure.
How important is India in your global scheme of things? Is this market discussed in your board meetings?
It’s always discussed. Even if I come here once a year, we follow India continuously. We know that the customer is here. It’s just about the matter of finding the right time to express ourselves completely as we do in other countries.
Is there anything special about the Indian consumer?
There is a tendency of people of not going to the shops – maybe because of the traffic. So, the tendency to indulge in personal shopping at home is much more in India than in any other market. As a brand that is like offering the best service possible by sending your person to the customers’ homes in their comfort zone and presenting the products of their liking. The customers here expect that and we are happy with that. To me, it’s the future of luxury.
Is there any other market identical to India in this regard?
No, not to this extent.