Led by Isha Ambani, the venture appears to be an attempt to consolidate the brand’s retail offering.
Reliance Retail has launched a high-end fashion and lifestyle brand, called “Azorte”. It is a consolidation of the brands from the stables of Reliance and has both an offline store in Bengaluru as well as an online presence at azorte.ajio.com. The store offers products such as clothing, personal care products, home decor, jewelry and shoes. Most of the brands stocked at Azorte are house brands of Reliance.
Reliance Retail also caters to online consumers through its website, ajio.com. With JioMart, it offers a hyperlocal retail solution that takes full advantage of Reliance Retail’s wide range of grocery stores and supply chain infrastructure.
According to a report from CNBC-TV18, the company is just getting started with Azorte. The report quotes Akhilesh Prasad, CEO, Fashion and Lifestyle – Reliance Retail as saying that the next store is about to open in Hyderabad.
Prasad adds that over the next nine months, the company plans to open 35 to 40 new stores in 16 different locations – metro cities, mini-metro cities and state capitals – across the country.
A press release quotes Prasad as saying that the mid-range fashion segment is one of the fastest growing consumer segments as Millennials and Gen Z increasingly demand the latest international and contemporary styles. .
A mid-range fashion brand is one that still has ambitious value, while remaining affordable. Other examples of mid-range fashion brands include H&M, Mango, Vero Moda, etc.
This isn’t Reliance Retail’s first foray into different sets of valuable products. According to its website, Reliance has a portfolio of fashion and lifestyle brands that spans value, mid-range, high-end and luxury segments. The Company operates brands such as Trends, Trends Footwear, Avantra by Trends, Reliance Jewels, etc.
In addition to this, Reliance also operates a portfolio of international brands, such as Armani, Diesel, Burberry, Marks & Spencer, Superdry and others in India. The website also mentions that Reliance Retail reported revenue of almost Rs 2 lakh crore for the financial year 2020-21. Reliance Retail operates 15,196 stores in 7,000 cities.
Devangshu Dutta, Managing Director of Third Eyesight, points out that part of Reliance’s strategy is to be larger than life, to be as big as possible and present in as many segments as possible.
He points out that Reliance is already present in the high-end private label market, with its portfolio of international brands. Now it targets the segment below that; which is growing, as the segment of people with disposable income increases.
“If you look at the brands that occupy the space on the ground floor of malls, they are mostly international and luxury brands. India should have more local luxury brands to compete with. We have a large young population and a strong manufacturing base. The number of brands we have, compared to those two factors, is actually miniscule,” adds Dutta.
Samit Sinha, Founder and Managing Partner, Alchemist Brand Consulting, explains that one of the frontiers Reliance has failed to conquer is retail. That is why it seeks to expand aggressively.
“Reliance Retail wants to have a comprehensive presence across all categories and segments – both online and offline, with Azorte. It makes sense for Reliance Retail to create space for its brand, since e-commerce retailers, like Amazon, have their own brands,” says Sinha.
Dutta says another aspect of the competition that exists between international brands and local brands — like the ones Reliance stocks in Azorte — is aspiration.
“Brands like Zara have been around since 1975. Even before its launch in India, Zara had many Indian visitors to its online website. The aspirational aspect certainly exists.
Reliance Retail has aggressive expansion plans for Azorte. Dutta says a mix of both online and offline is important for brand building. “Reliance has the resources to create a footprint for the brand, and that’s half the battle won.”
Sinha agrees that the brand’s offline presence, especially in the mid-luxury segment, is important to create the “Azorte brand” in the minds of consumers, as brand building is not as strong when the brand only has an online presence.
Dutta argues that an offline presence is as important as an online presence because most consumers can experience the brand offline, even though they can browse its products online or on various apps.