Spain's Inditex, Europe's largest clothing retailer, said Monday that it had opened the first store of its flagship Zara brand in India as part of its push into the fast-growing Asian market.
The inauguration of the 1,800-square-metre (19,375 square feet) outlet in a shopping mall in the capital Delhi on Saturday will be followed by the opening of another Zara outlet in Mumbai and another in Delhi within weeks, it said.
"The country has a dozen cities whose populations each exceed three million people and the Indian market promises substantial growth potential for Zara's fashion offering," Inditex said in a statement.
The company plans to open a total of five Zara branches in India, the world's second most populous country with 1.1 billion people, this year as part of a joint venture with Indian conglomerate Tata Group.
Investment bank Goldman Sachs predicts India will expand annually by some 6.2 percent from 2011 to 2050.
The country will overtake Germany as the world's fifth-biggest consumer market by 2025 as the size of its middle class expands to 583 million people, or about 41 percent of the population, from about 50 million, or roughly five percent currently, according to global consultancy firm McKinsey.
Many members of India's rising middle class are already familiar with Zara's stylish designs which resemble those of the big-name Italian fashion houses and are sold at moderate prices.
The company will target the upper middle class in India and its prices will be about 10 percent higher than in Europe.
The foray into India is part of the company's aggressive expansion into Asia and its efforts to reduce its dependence on Western Europe which has suffered from weak economic growth in recent years.
Inditex first entered the Asian market with the opening of a store in Japan in 1999. It is also present in Singapore, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, South Korea and China, its biggest market in Asia.
The company expects Asia and the Middle East to account for 20 percent of total sales in 2012, up from 12 percent currently.
The company operates in 77 countries following the opening of its first store in India.