The Italian denim and sportswear company plans to open 15 stores in India over the next four years and double its presence in China to 24 stores in two years.
Gaetano Sallorenzo, in the first interview since his appointment as Replay's chief executive officer, said the company has signed an agreement with Pantaloon Retail India Ltd., one of the country's main retailers, to develop its network of stores in that market. Replay made its debut in India on Wednesday with the opening of the brand's first store at the Select City Mall in New Delhi.
"There is a strong appetite for brands and fashion in India," said Sallorenzo.
That said, he acknowledged that a quick return on the company's investment wouldn't be likely, given the nature of conducting business in India.
"The expansion there is very much related to the development of infrastructures, which are still very limited," said Sallorenzo. "We decided to move swiftly, with the most knowledgeable partner, ahead of many of our competitors, to develop brand awareness there and because we believe in the potential of India, which will become a very important market, very much attentive to fashion. And the future is in our own branded stores."
Covering 1,200 square feet, the first store is modeled after Replay's signature stores around the world, with vintage furniture pieces juxtaposed with contemporary designs.
"Replay is a distinctive, contemporary brand for the denim enthusiast with passion for time-honored craftsmanship," said Rakesh Biyani, director of Pantaloon Retail India, which is based in Mumbai and counts more than 1,000 stores across 53 cities in India, ranging from fashion outlets to supermarket chains.
Replay is also keeping an eye on more developed markets and will open a store in Miami in November, in a restructured Art Deco building. It is also considering a second store in New York.
"We are monitoring the U.S. market because the euro-dollar exchange rate is not helping us and the level of investment to open stores there is tremendous," said Sallorenzo.
The company currently counts 200 stores around the world.