Foreign coffee, cars in your neighbourhood

Foreign coffee, cars in your neighbourhood
Mumbai: The Indian market is all set to welcome competition with a number of brands making an entry this year. The move started with Starbucks Corp tying up with Tata Coffee Ltd on Thursday to pave way for retail locations in India as well as to source premium Arabica coffee beans from India.

"India is as large an opportunity as there exists in the world, coupled with China," said Starbucks' Chairman Howard Schultz.

The first phase of the alliance involves sourcing and roasting coffee beans. Opening Starbucks outlets in Tata retail locations and hotels is also being planned, Schultz said.

He also said that Starbucks plans to select another Indian partner to develop standalone Starbucks stores in India, but he did not offer a time frame.

Starbucks, however, is merely one of the many foreign brands entering India this year. According to sources, French retail giant Carrefour, which opened a store in New Delhi recently, is planning to launch stores in Mumbai and Pune soon.

Carrefour has almost finalised its tie-up with Kishore Biyani's Future Group. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Carrefour Lars Olofsson is scheduled to visit the country later this month or early February to announce tie-ups with Big Bazaar, Pantaloons and Food Bazaar, sources said, though Biyani has not confirmed or denied anything.

Retail sector observers said that Future Group is expected to run the stores while Carrefour would manage the supply chain and technology, as well as provide merchandise. Future is also expected to pay an undisclosed sum as royalty to Carrefour.

Another retailer expected to enter India later this year is Britain's Tesco Plc., which is planning to roll out its wholesale stores soon.

It's not merely retailers who are entering the Indian market, but automobile brands as well.

Scuderia Ferrari cars will be on sale in India from this year and its chairman Luca di Montezemolo confirmed this when he came to India.

Montezemolo is said to be busy with several meetings with Ferrari CEO Amedeo Felisa regarding its Indian launch operations to be launched in Mumbai and Delhi.

When imports start shortly this year, this will become the 58th market where Ferrari has an official dealership, sources close to the development said.

Also waiting in the wings is BMW's niche brand MINI, which will be available in India by the end of this year in two models MINI Cooper and MINI Countryman.

Yet another brand expected to launch this year is the Netherlands based Spyker Cars. Market sources informed that the company has held talks as well as shortlisted potential partners already and is expected to announce a retail partner shortly. The two dealerships are to be set up at New Delhi and Mumbai.

But observers expect Nissan Sunny to be here before that and expect it to hit the Indian market by February.

And, if sources are to be believed James Bond's favourite car Aston Martin is believed to be getting ready to launch in India. It has tied up with Infinity Cars to open its first showroom in Mumbai, according to market sources.

Brands are also being soft launched surreptitiously. For example, South African Playboy April 2010 centre spread model Candice Boucher has been signed to play a role of a sand artist in Percept Pictures' spy drama. What nobody seems to have noticed is that she also happens to be the brand ambassador of Intimissimi lingerie and Guess Jeans. Guess already has a presence in India and market watchers say that they won't be surprised if Intimissimi decides to move into India shortly.