Covid triggers rejig of partnerships between global fashion firms, Indian retailers

NEW DELHI: Last month, Gap Inc. and Arvind Fashions split their India master franchisee partnership, citing the pandemic.

Now, France’s Promod and Mumbai-based Major Brands are calling off their India retail joint venture, people aware of the plan said.

The pandemic has not just impacted retail businesses, it is also triggering a rejig of partnerships between global fashion companies and Indian retailers.

US sportswear brand New Balance signed Gaurik Lifestyle as the new partner to run New Balance-branded physical outlets in India, according to two people familiar with the development. Boston-based New Balance earlier had a franchisee arrangement with Major Brands.

At the same time, New Balance is in talks with Myntra for an exclusive deal to sell online, they said. Myntra declined to comment.

Gaurik is also in talks to take over the India business of Guess from a local subsidiary of the US clothing and accessories brand, they said.

Major Brands, Guess and New Balance did not respond to requests seeking comment.

Fashion and lifestyle retailers have been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic as consumers stayed indoors for months and cut spending on fashion and discretionary items.

On parting with Gap, Arvind Fashion told the BSE that a “mutual termination” was in the best interests of both companies.

Gap is now in talks with a large Indian retail group and one of the biggest e-commerce companies for a possible tie up.

Market experts said more global brands are looking to change their India partners in the months ahead as the fashion and lifestyle segment sifts through the devastation caused by Covid-19.

“People are focusing on capital allocations to winning brands as nobody would keep funding loss-making ventures,” said Harminder Sahni, founder of retail consultancy Wazir Advisors.


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