Chennai-headquartered Nalli Silks has opened its first store in London with support from the U.K.’s Department for International Trade (DIT). “We have invested approximately £300,000 (over ₹2.86 crore) for a 2,500 square feet store in Wembley and have picked an eight-member team to run the operations,” Lavanya Nalli, vice-chairperson, Nalli Silks, said. The firm, which previously gifted sarees to King George V and Queen Elizabeth, is expected to open more stores in London and Birmingham to serve U.K. customers. The U.K.’s Indian diaspora is estimated to be almost 1.5 million people. “We set up the business here based on our learnings from our other international expansions (U.S., Canada and Singapore),” Ms. Lavanya said, adding that the market potential was huge.

Demand for sarees for wedding season and COVID-19 travel restrictions prompted the firm to fast track the project. DIT officials in Chennai and London have been working with Nalli over the past 18 months to help facilitate site visits in the U.K., introductions to key tax services, and updates on COVID-19 related support measures – including the retail bounce-back announced by Exports Minister Graham Stuart.

“Our team from the Department of International Trade at the British Deputy High Commission in Chennai continues to work with Tamil Nadu-based investors like Nalli, who have shown immense faith in the U.K. market for their international expansion. The U.K. will remain open to investors.” Oliver Ballhatchet, British Deputy High Commissioner to Chennai, told The Hindu.

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