A decade af­ter DLF set up one of In­dia’s first lux­ury re­tails malls, the game of lux­ury is all set to change


DLF Em­po­rio com­pletes a decade of deca­dence

The north of the coun­try is al­ways viewed as the place for all things lux­ury. With a cul­ture of splurg­ing on the best in the mar­ket, it has over the years, ac­quired a rep­u­ta­tion for lap­ping up what­ever in­ter­na­tional brands throw its way. DLF Em­po­rio in Delhi was one of the first ad­dresses for lux­ury re­tail in the coun­try when it launched in 2008, and as the brand cel­e­brates its 10th an­niver­sary, we speak to Di­naz Mad­hukar, EVP, Lux­ury Re­tail and Hos­pi­tal­ity, DLF on the evo­lu­tion of the In­dian lux­ury mar­ket and where it stands to­day.

The First Leg

“I joined DLF Em­po­rio in 2010 at a time when the world econ­omy was in a slump and things were tough. Luck­ily for us, all the part­ner­ships had been tied up and brands had signed on. In the time since, it has only be­come eas­ier and 2011-2014 were es­pe­cially good years since we had first mover ad­van­tage and while there was un­cer­tainty vis a vis the world mar­ket, peo­ple were in­ter­ested in lux­ury re­tail. We had to clear sev­eral mis­con­cep­tions as peo­ple

thought the In­dian stores were show­cas­ing what was last sea­son while that was not the case. Also, there was a per­cep­tion that it was more ex­pen­sive to buy in­ter­na­tional brands in In­dia but the truth is, In­dia is cheaper than Dubai and Sin­ga­pore so this is the best mar­ket to buy. More re­cently, there was the de­mon­eti­sa­tion dip but things have gone back to be­ing sta­ble af­ter the ini­tial hic­cups so In­dian lux­ury con­sumers are back on a buy­ing spree.”

DLF re­cently launched The Chanakya. How is it dif­fer­ent from DLF Em­po­rio?

“We need more or­gan­ised re­tail in the lux­ury space as a brand that en­ters the coun­try can­not sus­tain it­self through just one store. We try not to re­peat our brands, so when we were launch­ing The Chanakya we did not want to can­ni­balise DLF Em­po­rio. Also for us, Em­po­rio was a cre­ated lux­ury des­ti­na­tion but The Chanakya is a nat­u­ral lux­ury des­ti­na­tion given its prox­im­ity to em­bassies, ho­tels, and the diplo­matic zones. While Em­po­rio is about time­less lux­ury we wanted edgi­ness in The Chanakya so you could dis­tin­guish be­tween the two. Em­po­rio is a wed­ding des­ti­na­tion while that is more lux­ury life­style and fo­cuses on ev­ery­day con­sump­tion through in­ter­na­tional brands like Ted Baker, Her­mes, and home­grown brands like Nio­co­bar that are qual­ity as­sured and lux­u­ri­ous but ac­ces­si­ble.”

How has the In­dian lux­ury con­sumer changed?

“As the mar­ket ma­tures things change. When In­di­ans first started con­sum­ing lux­ury it was all about branded lo­gos and the logo that screams the loud­est. Now brands and con­sumers are much more dis­creet and you can see brands them­selves mak­ing that change from be­ing in your face. We have not gone away from the logo as the first mi­grants to lux­ury still need lo­gos to make a state­ment but the aes­thetic is def­i­nitely more pared down. The In­dian lux­ury mar­ket keeps evolv­ing as a new wave of con­sumers keep com­ing in ev­ery now and then.”

Do you see great po­ten­tial in Tier 2 cities?

“We have a lot of peo­ple com­ing in ev­ery week­end from Pun­jab and other parts of the north. In fact, we had a pri­vate char­ter from Lud­hi­ana that brought peo­ple in for a pri­vate show­ing. Even over the week­end, we have a bag­gage on hold sec­tion at DLF Em­po­rio since we have a lot of peo­ple who come in with strol­leys, shop and fly back the same day. How­ever, most of these Tier 2 mar­kets can­not sus­tain a com­plete lux­ury mall. Most brands need to do num­bers and if you don’t achieve that it doesn’t add up as the in­vest­ment is huge. While we do trunk shows in other cities it is not yet eco­nom­i­cally vi­able to go there full time.”

WOW­ING IN­DIA Many of the in­ter­na­tional brands at DLF Em­po­rio made their In­dian de­but at this mall

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