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Bennett Coleman & Company Ltd (BCCL), the publishers of the Times of India and the Economic Times, has picked up a stake in apparel retail firm Priknit Retail Ltd. The Ludhiana-based company operates its retail chain under the brand name Priknit. The company has 300 stores across 160 cities with more than three lakh square feet of retail space. Priknit is also involved in manufacturing of apparel.

Though the deal size or stake has not been disclosed, the deal seems to be part of the private treaties division of BCCL. Private treaties involve BCCL picking up equity stakes in companies in return for promoting them through long-term advertising and other publicity deals.

Priknit was formed in 1983 by Vijay Ghai. It now plans to expand its presence and aims to have 1,000 retails stores by 2010. The firm reported a turnover of Rs 162 crore in 2007-08 and hopes to achieve a turnover of over Rs 300 crore during 2008-09. Priknit has a strong

presence in north India, and now plans to expand to west and south Indian market.

There are several apparel retail firms that have raised private equity funding. Last year Sequoia Capital India invested Rs 120 crore (about $30 million) in Cotton County Retail Ltd, another Ludhiana-based firm.

UTI Ventures and Argonaut Private Equity's have invested $28 million in Kouton Retail and Avigo Capital Partners invested $5 million in Spykar Lifestyle. In 2006, Future Group's private equity arm Indivision picked up 24% equity in Lilliput Kidswear for about Rs 45

crore ($10 million).

This deal would take BCCL's stake in number of retail chains to fourteen. It has deal with a number of retail chains like Pantaloon, Archies, Sleepins Apparels, Khadim India, Vishal Retail, Welspun Retail etc.

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