Tata Retail Chain Launches Own Brand Laptops

Infiniti Retail, the electronics retail chain in India of the Tata Group, has launched its own Croma brand of laptops that will be sold through its Croma retail stores.

"We were looking for a home laptop that would meet the needs of all in the family, and at the right price point," said Ajit Joshi, CEO and managing director of Infiniti, on Friday.

The company's stores sell over 4,000 laptops a month of various brands, he said.

The retail chain has launched a home series, with a model priced at Indian Rupees 32,999 (US$628). It features a Pentium Dual Core T3400 processor, and runs the Vista Home Basic operating system. Another line, called the entertainment series, has a model priced at Rupees 42,999, and is targeted at users who want to do Web site design, edit home movies, and play video games. This product runs Vista Home Premium and has an Intel Core 2 Duo T6400 processor.

Croma will sell these laptops to business buyers as well in about a week, through its institutional sales division, Joshi said. For a large number of users, who use their business laptops for tasks like spreadsheet, email, and presentations, the configurations offered by the Croma laptops are sufficient, he added.

About 20 to 25 percent of the retail chain's sales of laptops are expected to come from its own brand, said Joshi who added that the retail chain plans to benefit from the strength of the Tata brand in India. The company has tied up with a group that already supports top laptop brands, to offer post-sales support for the laptops, Joshi added.

Croma stores already sell laptops from vendors like Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Sony, and a local maker HCL Infosystems. Dell, for example, is offering a combination of build-to-order and off-the-shelf sales of its laptops through Croma and other retail channels.

"Croma already sells other brands of laptops in their stores, and the new brand will be one more of those," said a Dell spokeswoman who added that in the final analysis Dell has an advantage by its products and the personalization it offers through its build-to-order model.

Growth in PC shipments in India was flat in the third quarter of last year and is likely to remain that way through this year, according to research firm IDC India. Although desktop PC shipments fell by about 9 percent, notebook PC shipments grew 38 percent during the third quarter of last year, IDC said in December.

Infiniti has contracted the assembly of its laptops to a local maker, Zenith Computers. It will add more configurations as demand picks up, Joshi said.

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