Tiffany & Co., the iconic American jeweller, will begin selling its luxury goods in India later this year after forming a joint venture with Reliance Brands, the retail arm of conglomerate Reliance Industries.

The two companies announced in a statement last week that they plan to open new stories in Delhi in the second half of the year with more to follow in Mumbai in 2020.

“As a global luxury jeweller with stores in many of the world’s most important cities, Tiffany’s emergence in these Indian commerce centres with their growing luxury consumer base presents a unique opportunity,” said Philippe Galtié, Tiffany’s EVP of global sales.

Tiffany, which was founded in 1837 when its first store opened in New York, now operates about 320 outlets around the world, including more than 80 in Asia-Pacific.

Some 34 of these are based in mainland China, but an ongoing trade war with the US has dented Tiffany’s profits in the country after the imposition of tariffs on US jewellery imports and a decline in overseas Chinese tourists to the US.

Consequently, Tiffany now views India as a major alternative, especially as it is already the world’s second-largest gold and jewellery market where rising incomes and a huge population offer plenty of opportunities.

According to the Financial Times, citing data from Statista, the luxury jewellery market in India is worth about $8bn, after more than doubling since 2012, and is expected to grow 5% a year through to 2023.

In addition, there are signs that Indian consumer tastes are changing, making them more welcoming of Western designs.

“There is a consumer in India who wants designs with Western sensibility, just the same as in the case of clothes where some Western brands are doing well,” said Colin Shah, vice chairman of India’s Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council, in comments reported by Fortune.

As for Reliance Industries, the deal marks yet another sign of its determination to branch out from its traditional activities in oil and industrial goods into more consumer-facing sectors.

Under chairman and majority shareholder Mukesh Ambani, the richest man in Asia, the company owns the Jio mobile network, has the largest retail business in India and recently announced plans to launch an e-commerce operation later this year.

At the same time, Reliance’s willingness to be associated with iconic Western brands was confirmed when it snapped up Hamley’s, the 259-year-old British toy shop, for $88.5m in cash.

Sourced from Tiffany & Co., Reliance Brands, Financial Times, Fortune, Bloomberg; additional content by WARC staff