Saks Fifth Avenue Finds New Address in Delhi’s Aerocity
Ultra luxe retailer said to have appointed Aditya Birla Fashion as its India franchisee
New Delhi: Ultra-luxury retail business in new-age India will be founded on old money. North America’s oldest commercial firm is now partnering the Aditya Birla Group, whose origins date back to 1857, to start Saks Fifth Avenue outlets in a country that once boasted of the poshest store east of the Suez.
Hudson’s Bay-owned Saks, which competes with Macy’s and Kohl’s for customers of designer or limited-edition footwear, clothing, and accessories, will help Indian shoppers live the Fifth Avenue experience in New Delhi’s Aerocity, according to three people familiar with the development. Saks has appointed Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail as the India franchisee and the first outlet is expected to come up in Bharti Realty’s Worldmark 2, said one of the persons with direct knowledge of the negotiations.
“Aditya Birla Group is in a late stage of discussions” to lease 100,000 sq ft of space in Worldmark 2, where the first Saks outlet in India will open, he said. The Aditya Birla group is also scouting for space in Mumbai for the second Saks department store there.
Hudson’s Bay, founded in 1670 by the English Royal Charter and a fur trader for many years of its commercial existence, will help India re-live at home the multi-brand premium shopping experience that drives customers on trips to shopping meccas like Dubai, London, Singapore, or New York. India’s own version of Harrods, Whiteaway Laidlaw, faded into insignificance after independence. Originally located on the Metropolitan Building in downtown Kolkata, Whiteaway & Laidlaw was once the class benchmark for department stores operating in Asia.
For the Saks venture, CBRE is acting as a real-estate consultant, according to two people cited above. CBRE did not respond to an email sent on Friday. The second person added that Saks could open the first store later this year or early next year, depending on how the negotiations proceed.
A spokesperson for Aditya Birla Fashion declined to comment saying the company does not comment on “market stories.” Saks did not respond to an email seeking comments while a spokesperson for Bharti Realty declined to comment.
Saks’ flagship outlet on the Fifth Avenue in Manhattan in New York is believed to generate about $700 million annual business for the company. Saks has been in talks with Aditya Birla for more than two years, according to sources.
In New Delhi, Saks store will compete with DLF’s luxury mall Emporio, that is home to single-brand luxury stores of Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Giorgio Armani, and Gucci.
Bharti Realty’s mix-land development Worldmark has over 1.4 million sqft commercial and retail space, consisting of about 900,000 sqft of office space and 500,000 sq ft of high-end retail space. The facility also houses Kishore Biyani-owned Central mall that is spread over 100,000 sq ft.
Aditya Birla Fashion owns various brands including Louis Philippe, Van Heusen, Allen Solly and Pantaloons department stores, among other labels. In May 2015, Aditya Birla Group had merged its units Madura Fashion division, Pantaloons Fashion & Retail and Madura Garments Lifestyle Retail to create Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Ltd.