India's Raymond Ltd said it is joining with Italian company Grotto to launch the latter's GAS brand on the Indian market.

The companies will set up a 50:50 joint venture (JV) for the lifestyle collection, which will mainly concentrate on premium denim clothing.

The JV will have an initial investment of INR500m (US$63.59m) over three years to take the brand to 600 retail outlets and open a flagship store by early 2007. Raymond and Grotto are also considering manufacturing in India in the longer term.

Raymond Group President Pradeep Bhandari told reporters in Mumbai that the JV was aiming to earn R1,250m in revenue in the next three years.

The company's chairman and managing director Gautam Singhania said: "The introduction of GAS in India reiterates our continued pursuit of bringing the best in international fashion to Indian consumers. This JV ensures that consumers will get the benefit from the strengths of both partners."

Raymond recently merged its denim operations with European denim company Uco, creating what they called "a new global denim powerhouse".