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Myntra wins rights to manage Esprit stores in India

LiveMint logoLiveMint 28-09-2017 Anirban Sen

Bengaluru: Flipkart-owned online fashion retailer Myntra has won the rights to manage international fashion brand Esprit’s offline stores in India, and also to sell the brand’s products exclusively on its online marketplace, months after the e-commerce firm bagged a similar deal from Spanish fashion brand Mango.

As part of this alliance, Myntra will manage at least 15 offline stores across India for Esprit over the next five years. The brand will also be sold online on Myntra-owned fashion retailer Jabong.

“We are very excited. This is a terrific partnership for us. We are going to be the master distributor both offline and online for Esprit in India—hopefully for a very long time. The reason for this partnership is very simple—as you know our strategy is really about courting brands and around how to build brands in India. We believe that Esprit can be grown into a large-scale brand,” said Myntra chief executive Ananth Narayanan in an interview on Thursday.

Narayanan added that he expected growth from Esprit, which was founded in California in 1968, to rise at least five times over the next five years in India.

Myntra first launched Esprit on its marketplace in December last year.

Globally, the Europe-focused retailer has undertaken a massive overhaul of its business and revamped strategy to focus on the broader shift that is sweeping across the retail industry, with the rise of e-commerce. As part of this revamp, Esprit has reviewed its operations, slashed operating costs by shutting down stores and also invested heavily in technology.

That strategy seems to be working, for now—for the year ended June 2017, Esprit reported a threefold jump in its profits, at a time when the broader market conditions in key markets such as the US and China remain challenging.

“By my experience at Esprit and what I know of the retail industry in Asia and this part of the world, we realized that we needed to find an omni-channel solution in the countries where we operate directly. The fastest way to test a market is by testing the brand online and that’s when we met Myntra. That’s when we started discussions around phase 2 of the strategy. And Myntra is a very good partner to build a brand with,” said Guillaume Thery, general manager of the Asia Pacific operations of Esprit.

This, however, is not the first time that Esprit has bet heavily on India. The international fashion brand had previously forayed into India during the 2000s through a distribution agreement with Madura Fashion and Lifestyle, but after several years of incurring heavy losses, the retailer exited India in 2012.

In February, Myntra inked a similar deal with Mango and won the rights to manage Mango’s offline stores in India, as well as sell the brand exclusively on its online marketplace. As part of the deal, Myntra is managing 25-30 of Mango’s stores in India.

In June, Myntra had formed brand partnerships with two women’s apparel brands—Chemistry and AKS.

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