World’s leading English tailor has designs on India

August 31st, 2008 - 5:40 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Aug 31 (IANS) One of the world’s best-known suit makers - well known among “gentlemen” everywhere - could open up branches in India after successes in China.Gieves & Hawkes of 1 Savile Row, London, is looking to India as a possible new market and its Chief Executive Mark Henderson is expected to outline the reasons at a Britain-India business summit Monday.

The company, whose suits can cost up to 3,500 pounds ($6,300) each, has no firm plans yet. But if it follows its model of engagement used in China, finding the right partner with local market knowledge will be a crucial step.

Although it is more than 200 years old, Gieves & Hawkes is a small company and not keen to rush into any new ventures without “careful consideration”, a spokeswoman said.

CEO Henderson is billed to address a ’summit’ to mark the first anniversary of the UK India Business Council (UKIBC), the lead bilateral agency charged with promoting bilateral trade and business between the two countries, in London Monday.

The company is being tight-lipped and it is not known whether it is looking at India to offset any negative impact of the global credit crunch.

Suits made by Gieves & Hawkes - an amalgamation of two British tailors going back to 1771 - do not come cheap.

Off-the-peg suits that are ready to wear sell for about 585 pounds but they can still make the wearer look important in a meeting of the wealthiest.

Next up, the company, which describes itself as “one of the most reputed names for modern gentleman clothing”, offers “personally tailored” suits, which are made in factories to personal specifications.

Its best - ‘bespoke’ suits that are hand-stitched by some of the world’s finest tailors - can set the gentleman back by 3,500 pounds.

However, the global financial downturn is said to be giving gentlemen of fine taste second thoughts about what they buy - at least in Britain.

A recent report by a Scottish newspaper reporter who went bargain-hunting for luxury goods found a Gieves & Hawkes shop assistant in Edinburgh offering a 10 percent discount if he bought two or three suits together.

Gieves & Hawkes says its main international focus at the moment is supporting and driving the business in China - a market it entered in the early 1990s.

It has nine stores in Taiwan, one in Macau, 47 in mainland China and four in Hong Kong “and the numbers continue to grow”, it says.

Although there can be differences trading in a country which isn’t the company’s home market, Gieves & Hawkes says its quality, fit and knowledgeable service have universal appeal, which creates the potential for business.

While it looks for a potential partner in India, Gieves & Hawkes is rolling out its ‘personal tailoring’ service to all flagship stores in China this year.

But, with expected fussiness, it says it will not be rushed into this process “as colleagues have to be trained to a level that is expected from Gieves & Hawkes”.

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