Loss-making Esprit India to shut operations by year end

Global retail giant Esprit is exiting India by the end of 2012. It had entered India in 2005 through a distribution deal with Madura Fashion and retail, Aditya Birla Group's lifestyle retailer.

Company sources reveal that the Esprit in India was suffering losses of about Rs 20-25 crore per annum, which made it unviable for the brand to remain in India. An email sent to Ashish Dikshit, CEO, Madura Fashion & Retail remained unanswered.

Sources reveal that while Madura Fashion and Retail wanted to renew the 7-year-old agreement, the Esprit global management was not keen.

In fact, Madura Fashion and Retail was in discussion with the global brand to form a joint venture, where Esprit merchandise would be locally produced in India to reduce import costs as well as other operating costs. But Esprit's global management refused to relent.

In fact, due to mounting losses, Esprit shut down its flagships in Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi in 2011 and it was converted to outlets of other Madura brands like Louis Philippe, Van Heusen or Allen Solly.

Esprit's plan was to take the brand to malls and Tier II towns, broaden its portfolio and operate multiple formats at a time when a slew of international fast fashion brands like Zara, Forever 21 and Vero Moda entered the Indian consumer market.

However, this effort too did not bear fruit for Esprit. Esprit now is in a hurry to clear its inventory and is currently offering up to 60 per cent discounts on its merchandise. Come 30th November, Esprit will no longer be part of the India retail story.