INDIA – Mumbai retail company, Reliance Retail, plans to bring Armani/Caffè, the boutique café concept of Italian luxury fashion house Emporio Armani, to India with possibilities of entering into the artifacts business, said two people aware of the company’s plan.

It is reported that Reliance Retail is currently negotiating a site for Armani/Caffè in the Phoenix Mall of Asia in Bengaluru, which is due to open in 2024.

The subsidiary of Reliance Industries is also considering rolling out the Armani/Caffè in Mumbai’s Jio World Centre, people close to the matter have reportedly said.

Reliance Retail has an existing partnership with Emporio Armani to sell the Emporio Armani, Armani Exchange, and EA7 brand products in India.

Emporio Armani currently operates eight Armani/Caffè locations globally, having two outlets in France, Cannes, and Paris, two in Japan, in Tokyo and Osaka, as well as standalone sites in Cairo, Dubai, Milan, and Munich. 

Combining retail and coffee is growing in popularity among global fashion brands. In the luxury retail segment, Ralph Lauren launched its Ralph’s Coffee concept in Hong Kong and Malaysia this year, adding to its locations in New York, Beijing, London, Munich, Doha, and Tokyo.

French-Japanese-inspired café and dining concept Café Kitsuné is also merging specialty coffee experiences within boutique retail stores. This year, the Maison Kitsuné-operated brand has debuted in Canada, the Philippines, and the United Arab Emirates.

The new business move by the Indian retailer seeks to bolster Reliance Brands Limited, a subsidiary of Reliance Retail Ventures Lt., which made the company’s first international foray into the food and beverage industry in 2019, by acquiring the British toy retailer Hamleys.

In June 2022, it also strengthened its capabilities in the food and beverage industry with an agreement to launch Pret A Manger in India.

Reliance Brands plans to open 100 stores of the UK coffee and food-to-go chain in India over the next five years. 

Concerning artifacts business exploration, Indian sources said Reliance plans to partner with the state governments to promote artisanal products and also take ‘Swadesh’ global.

The company has already signed an agreement with West Bengal and the textile ministry, which will enable the sourcing of 100% authentic products directly from the artisans.

The first of its artisan-centric stores called ‘Swadesh’ will come up in Delhi’s Connaught Place area, they said, adding that the company has already leased about 30,000 sq ft of space in E block of the popular shopping area, one of the costliest retail locations in the country.

‘Swadesh’ will showcase artisanal products, including agriculture and food items, handloom, clothing, textiles, handicrafts, and handmade natural products.

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