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Martha to enter Indian closets

 Martha Stewart could soon be doing up homes in India. The American brand synonymous with gracious living in the US might make it to the country’s retail shelves as part of the licensee, joint venture or franchisee agreements between US home fashion chains and their Indian partners.

Her designer towels, signature bed sheets, curtains and furniture could soon be retailed in the country as the domestic home fashion market in India expands.

“International designer brand including MS are likely to come to India in the near future. The increase in retail space for home textile and addition of new players who already have an international presence would assure that,” says a Delhi analyst pointing to the fashion or design vacuum in the domestic home textile sector.

Stewart’s range, a household name in US, is already made in India and outsourced for many retail chains. It is likely to make its Indian retail debut through them.

As Kmart-Sears, Macy and WestPoint Home check out Indian possibilities in retail, Martha Stewart is part of the reverse-marketing package they are exploring with at least two Indian players. Stewart’s products outsourced from India include towels and furniture.

The home-maker celebrity, TV show hostess, publisher, designer and entrepreneur was convicted for lying during investigation of a case that involved insider trading in a stock held by her.

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSLO), which recorded a turnover of more than $200 million last year, is an “integrated content company” in publishing, merchandising, broadcasting and Internet.

But how popular will the Martha Stewart range be in India? Rajinder Gupta, chairman of the Trident Group, which manufactures some Martha Stewart designs for Kmart in India, reserves judgement. “Martha Stewart is a TV show celebrity in US. Her brand is not very strong in India.

The brand might be retailed in India but it will take a while before the domestic designers venture into home fashion and start their own lines. For example, a Ritu Beri line of towels would be as exciting,” he says.



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