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BW Businessworld

BALLARD ESTATE - The New High Street

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Hermes is said to be the cleverest of the Olympian gods. Maybe that's why the Paris-based luxury brand Hermes decided to open its 3,000-sq. ft store in Mumbai's Ballard Estate area. That's a radical change in strategy; its Delhi outlet is at The Oberoi while the Pune one is at the Ista Hotel.

The third store of Hermes in India could well be the harbinger of change in India's luxury retail market by sowing the seeds of the country's first ever high street. Hermes is the only international brand to open shop in Ballard Estate. The area already houses Indian brands such as Sabyasachi, multi-brand store Kitsch and Ensemble. It is also home to a clutch of restaurants and art galleries.

Will the Ballard Estate area emerge as the Mecca for luxury brands in India?

It will be a while before the area truly becomes a high street. "Given an option, I would opt for malls and high-street over hotels," says Darshan Mehta, president and CEO at Reliance Brands. Priya Sachdev, whose Kitsch is already operational there, is upbeat. "The response has been great. We touched operational break-even in less than six months."

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 26-09-2011)