Brand-addicted Indians propel luxury sector

NEW DELHI, November 2, 2011 (AFP) – India’s luxury sales are expected to expand by a scorching 20 percent annually until 2015, according to a new report, as brand-smitten consumers snap up big names to flaunt their wealth. Luxury sales were slow to take off in India a decade ago, disappointing retailers who had rushed into what they hoped would be the next China — a vast market of over a billion people with an eye for status symbols.

But now Indian consumers “are quickly catching up with global trends”, according to Neelesh Hundekari, head of Indian luxury retail at consultancy AT Kearney and author of the recent “Indian Luxury Review” report.

Global labels are jostling to make their mark in India where 153,000 dollar millionaires — and many thousands just a notch below — have created a luxury market in a nation also home to untold millions living in poverty.

India’s luxury sales grew by 20 percent to reach $5.75 billion in 2010, despite high tariff barriers, a lack of retail infrastructure and costly rents, according to the AT Kearney report.

That figure is expected to rise at a similar pace annually to reach $14.72 billion by 2015 — around half of the forecast $27-28 billion for the sector in