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Indian retail’s big daddy Kishore Biyani has clearly gone from being an e-commerce skeptic to loving it. On July 04, Biyani’s Future Lifestyle Fashions (FLF) said it has agreed to buy (pdf) a 29.9% stake in London-headquartered fashion e-commerce portal Koovs for an estimated Rs140 crore (approx $20 million). “This investment would complement the existing value chain for FLFL as an integrated branded fashion player,” Biyani, group CEO of Future Group, said in a filing to the stock exchange. FLF currently owns and markets about 30 fashion brands, which are sold through the retailer’s large-format fashion chains such as Central and Brand Factory. This deal strengthens Future Group’s presence in online fashion, which is among the fastest growing e-commerce categories in India’s $33 billion online market . For Koovs, the backing of Future Group could go a long way in establishing a presence in an industry which is currently dominated by Flipkart , along with its subsidiaries Myntra and Jabong. Koovs was launched in 2012 by Waheed Alli, former chairman of British online fashion and beauty retailer, ASOS. Even as it was headquartered in London, most of the company’s business was—and continues to be—focused on India. At its inception, the company sold affordable global fast fashion to young Indian shoppers, and manufactured garments crafted by a team of designers based in London . But over the years, its business model has come to rely heavily on private labels, apart from selling the latest clothes of London-based fashion designers . In 2014, Koovs listed on London’s AIM exchange, a stock exchange for smaller companies.
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