INCOMING

Another foreign furniture giant is following IKEA to India

Ready to sell.
Ready to sell.
Image: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic
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Three months after the Swedish major IKEA set shop in India, another global furniture retail giant is testing the waters.

On Nov. 15, Reliance Brands, part of the Mumbai-based Reliance Industries, announced its tie-up with Williams-Sonoma to bring the furnishings major’s brands to India. The US retailer’s first Indian store will open in Mumbai in 2020, the companies said in a statement.

Reliance will retail Williams-Sonoma’s popular brands Pottery Barn, West Elm, and Pottery Barn Kids, which will also be sold online.

The NYSE-listed Williams-Sonoma also sells furniture, furnishings, and home decor under brands such as Williams Sonoma, PBteen, Williams Sonoma Home, Rejuvenation, and Mark and Graham. For the fiscal year 2017, the retailer clocked net revenue of $5.3 billion (pdf). Pottery Barn and West Elm are its largest brands with presence in markets such as Canada, the UK, Australia, the US, South Korea, and west Asia among others.

“Adding Reliance to our franchisee network is a significant step in our continuing global expansion,” said Ronald Young, the global executive vice-president for Williams-Sonoma.

Since its inception in 2007, Reliance Brands has brought several global labels to India, including Burberry, Hamleys, Hugo Boss, Jimmy Choo, Kate Spade New York, Michael Kors, Mothercare, Muji, and Steve Madden.

However, until now, its portfolio was largely restricted to fashion and lifestyle. With Pottery Barn and West Elm, Reliance is set to enter India’s $27 billion, mostly unorganised furniture market.

Over the past few years, affluent urban shoppers have spurred the demand for better-designed and functional furniture. This has prompted local and large global retailers, as well as startups such as Urban Ladder and Pepper Fry, to sell their wares here.

A young demographic and higher instances of migration are also likely to shore up demand for new houses here. Which explains why more global brands are keen to set up shop.

In August this year, the world’s largest furniture retailer, IKEA, opened its first store in India in the southern city of Hyderabad. The retailer, which has localised its offerings for the market and lowered its price points for value-conscious Indian shoppers, plans to add 25 stores here by 2025.