Reliance Retail launched a premium fashion and lifestyle store brand on Thursday, with the first store inaugurated in Bengaluru. It plans to open close to 40 such stores across 12 cities over the coming nine months, Akhilesh Prasad, CEO, fashion and lifestyle, Reliance Retail, said in an interview.
The company will open about 25 AZORTE stores this financial year alone, and they will be positioned in metros, mini metros, class A cities and state capitals, Prasad said.
With this, the largely fast fashion-focused store will now compete with the likes of Zara, a global fast fashion brand which operates in partnership with Tata in India, and H&M.
“The prices in the AZORTE stores will be about a third cheaper than their comparable global brands,” Prasad said. “The mid-premium fashion segment is one of fastest growing consumer segments as millennials and the Gen-Z are increasingly demanding the latest of international and contemporary Indian fashion,” Prasad added.
As input price pressures continue to mount, Prasad said his division has hiked prices by nearly 5% owing to inflationary pressures, but said, “We are largely holding prices by tapping into our plants’ full capacity, and have thus been able to largely absorb most of the price increases,” Prasad said. He said his division made its highest ever sales this month, in the run-up to the festive season.
AZORTE, a house of brands with a curated collection, is the latest addition to Reliance Retail’s fashion and lifestyle portfolio that has adopted a multi-format approach to cater to all consumer segments. The AZORTE stores will house both own and co-created lines, with roughly 70% of Reliance’s own brands and 30% would be other companies.
Earlier this week, Reliance Retail launched another fashion and lifestyle departmental store format, Reliance Centro, for the mid-premium segment. The first Centro store opened in Vasant Kunj, New Delhi.
Bengaluru’s AZORTE store, which opened in 1 MG-Lido Mall, MG Road, is spread over 18,000 sq ft and will be relatively smaller than the upcoming ones, for which the company targets a store size of about 20,000 sq ft. Its second store will open in Hyderabad, Prasad said.
AZORTE stores will be heavily tech-enabled with options such as smart trial rooms, fashion discovery stations, endless aisles and self-checkout kiosks, among others. Despite that, each store will employ more than 100 people, so the company is expected to create employment for about 4,000 people over the next nine months or so just from AZORTE, Prasad said.
With expansion plans under way, AZORTE is expected to be a significant revenue generator for the company. “Over the next three years, AZORTE is expected to account for about 15-20% of our turnover from the fashion and lifestyle division,” Prasad said.