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March 17, 2008

Profile of the fashion retail-focused Murjani Group

Businessworld has a profile of the Murjani Group which is focused on high-end fashion retail.
Mohan Murjani was legendary, not for starting a design house or his own label, but instead for using a series of innovative, often renegade marketing tactics to make the brands that he acquired famous. Some 30 years later, his son, 37-year-old Vijay Murjani is creating a high-end fashion retail chain in India.

Vijay first moved shop to India in 2001 to check out the potential for luxury brands in the Indian retail sector. He quickly realised that none of the US or European fashion brands had been able to establish presence in India. Some of the most popular brands were limited to just one or two stores in Indian luxury hotels. Though the mall culture was beginning to evolve, none of the malls was creating space for fashion or luxury brands.

Vijay began quietly snapping up India franchises for some of the world’s best known fashion brands, which he is now introducing to India for the first time. These include hip, mid-priced clothing line French Connection (or FCUK) and Calvin Klein. On the really upscale end, Vijay is hoping that wealthy Indians will flock to stylish luggage maker Tumi, must-have clothing and accessories purveyor Gucci, fancy stiletto shoemaker Jimmy Choo, and exclusive lingerie outfit La Perla, among others. Murjani has opened 18 stores in places such as Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, and plans to add another seven stores over the next few months for his various brands. “Murjani’s growth has pretty much slipped under the radar of the Indian fashion fraternity,” says Sumeet Nair, executive director of Fashion Design Council of India. “If he succeeds in creating scale, it can be a model for Indian fashion brands to follow.” Most Indian fashion brands are not able to open beyond a couple of stores.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of information and networking services to the private equity and venture capital ecosystem in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports.