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Reliance Brands Acquires 40% Stake in Indian Luxury Label Manish Malhotra

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Reliance Brands Limited (RBL), an Indian retail conglomerate, has acquired a 40% ownership in Manish Malhotra, a 16-year-old luxury brand, for an undisclosed sum, the firms said on Friday.

The agreement is meant to strengthen the brand’s positioning and drive international expansion.
It comes as investor interest in India’s luxury labels grows.

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“One thing I am frequently asked is, ‘Why isn’t there a true luxury brand coming out of India?’
In three years, I anticipate people to say, ‘Well, there’s Manish Malhotra, that’s a worldwide luxury brand from India.’ That is the purpose we are pursuing,” said Darshan Mehta, RBL’s managing director and CEO.

The CEO cited the brand’s existing popularity among wealthy Indian expats in Europe, the United States, and the Middle East as a possibility for further expansion.

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“They are bankers, techies, aspirants, and affluent.” “We have a brand that already has a cachet in that cohort; it’s a terrific starting point,” Mehta explained.

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Manish Malhotra, famed for high-octane splendor and Indian craftsmanship, currently has four stores in India and a social media following of more than 12 million across several channels.

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The privately held company does not publish sales figures, but Malhotra claims the brand already has a big following in the United States, United Kingdom, and the Middle East.

Pop-ups, e-commerce expansion, and new physical storefronts are all planned for the future to tap into those markets.

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Malhotra, a self-taught designer who began his career as a stylist and costume designer in Bollywood films, stated that he had previously rejected down other investment opportunities.

“If I want to expand and enter other sectors, there can be no other partner for me except Reliance,” he remarked.

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Part of the relationship is personal. Malhotra has long had ties to the Ambani family (Billionaire Mukesh Ambani is the chairman and managing director of RBL’s parent firm Reliance Industries).
For years, the designer has had family members as clientele.

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Ambani famously outfitted the bride and other family members for several events during the wedding festivities when his daughter Isha married just before the epidemic.

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Meanwhile, RBL has a diverse portfolio of fashion brand agreements in the Indian market, including Burberry, Diesel, Versace, and Tory Burch. It has established a significant physical retail infrastructure in India, with 1,339 doors spread among 595 locations and 744 shop-in-shops.

The retail giant’s investment in Manish Malhotra is its second in an Indian designer business, following its investment in Raghavendra Rathore in 2018.

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It follows a series of similar investments earlier this year by Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail, which acquired a 51 percent stake in Sabyasachi Mukherjee’s Sabyasachi label in January before acquiring a 33 percent stake in Tarun Tahiliani’s luxury demi-couture business for 670 million rupees (approximately $9.25 million) in an all-cash deal in February.

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Though India’s demi-couture and occasion wear industry, which is heavily reliant on weddings, has suffered from a lack of events during the pandemic, these gatherings have returned in force as India’s vaccination program ramps up and restrictions are relaxed.

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According to Malhotra, this wedding season has been the busiest and most profitable for his company in years.

According to McKinsey, India’s luxury sector is one of the fastest growing in the world, with a current market worth of $30 billion expected to expand to more than $200 billion by 2030.

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Following the investment, Malhotra will continue to lead the brand as its managing and creative director.

 

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