Mumbai: The government is looking at formulating a policy that will not displace the small neighbourhood retailers. This was indicated by commerce minister Kamal Nath while answering questions at the two-day Hindustan Times Luxury Conference 2006, which kicked off in Mumbai today.
''Luxury brands do not pose any such threat to them. You will not have to wait for long to see this happen,'' said the minister.
He also indicated that Indian customs duties would soon move to the ASEAN levels; India could see a transformation in the next couple of months. He also said that India should take advantage of the trade agreements (India has signed trade agreements with Sri Lanka, ASEAN, Pakistan and Bangladesh).
Inaugurating the conference, the minister said that it should be possible to create more jobs and employment opportunities in the country through indigenously-designed luxury products; small and medium enterprises (SMEs) should get involved in this endeavour of wealth creation along with India's traditional sectors.
''Designed-in-India should stand side-by-side with 'made-in-India' and 'served-from-India,'' said Nath. He said that production of high-end fashion and lifestyle products is skill and labour intensive. For example, a typical high-end suit or exclusive pair of footwear is always hand made and hand-stitched. This gives India a natural advantage in becoming an important hub for
production of these products.
This, he said, provides India has a great latent opportunity in capturing potential markets through sharper focus on value addition in fields like fashion, lifestyle products, leather goods, paper
products, perfumes and furniture. India dominates the world cut and polished diamonds market. In value terms, Indian accounts for approximately 55 per cent of the global market, and in volume terms 85 per cent.
The 300-million strong Indian middle class, growing at 25 million a year, has become the segment driving consumption of goods like cars and air conditioners. '''The Indian consumer has tuned into a bewildering spectrum of trends and aspirations. Increased access to electronic and traditional media, the internet, and the more frequent foreign travel have transformed the traditional customer to a 'new Value' global shopper,'' Nath added.
India's new demographics present unique opportunity. Demographically, Indian consumers are getting younger, more knowledgeable and more assertive. Luxury brands are something they aspire to own as symbols of success,'' said Nath. This, he said, has contributed to increasing buoyancy in the market for luxury goods and premium products.
According to the minister, the market for high-end clothing in India is estimated at Rs1,000 crore, and for accessories, including cosmetics, costume jewellery and footwear, at another Rs1,000 crore. If you add other luxury products - furniture, appliances, and premium models in all product lines - this will amount to over Rs10,000 crore. This is growing steadily at 20 per cent. ''But the luxury market has the potential to grow at 50 per cent, providing more jobs and employment. It is a market waiting for a bigger boom, '' said Nath.
Shobhana Bhartia, vice chairperson and editorial director, Hindustan Times, while welcoming the delegates at the conference said that ''Luxury and India have long been inextricably linked. India is too big a country to blindly follow anybody, '' Appealing to the large contingent of foreign delegates Bhartia said, ''Don't just look at us as a market but teach us how to market us.''
The Hindustan Times Luxury Conference has been organised in association with FICCI and NID. HT Media Limited has a leadership position in the English newspaper market in the north and east and made its entry into Mumbai in July 2005. Hindustan Times, the flagship publication of the group, has a circulation of over 1.1 million and is the fastest growing mainline English newspaper in terms of readership.