The first stage of the expansion will see the company focus on the Mumbai market, where it is currently in the throes of opening four freestanding stores, group President John Dempsey said at a press conference. This move will be backed up by targeting two of India's other major metropolises and economic centers, Delhi and Bangalore over the course of the next six months. Expanding into the biggest cities Over the course of the next three years, the company plans to open around 20 of these freestanding stores, while also expanding its city expansion in Hyderabad, Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta) and Pune. It is expected that the freestanding stores will help to trigger further development of Estee Lauder's Indian sales by raising the profile of the brand in the country, where its exposure until recently has been limited. "The timing is right to bring Estee Lauder to India," Dempsey was quoted as saying in the Economic Times. He added that he wanted to build on existing brand awareness and increase the availability of the company's products to Indian women, and in particular the up-and-coming generation of cosmetics buyers. Skin lightening focus Dempsey said that Estee Lauder would be targeting the specific demands of the Indian market with the introduction of its Cyber White skin lightening range, tapping into a key trend for this type of skin care product. This range has already proved to be popular in other key global markets, particular with consumers of Asian ethnicity who are particularly drawn to the skin lightening category. The company will also target Indian consumers with a range of its key global brands, that will probably include its Advanced Night Repair skin care range, as well as its Signature Hydra Lustre lipstick and fragrance line. Indian personal care market set for big growth Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) predicts that the cosmetics market will grow from $950m to $1.4bn in the next 2-3 years, which would bring India's per capita expenditure up to that of China's. Likewise, India has been cited as one of the most important emerging markets in the Asian region, with a 12.6 per cent increase in personal care sales revenue in 2006, according to a report from market research company the Kline Group. Kline currently predicts increasing market sophistication as Indian consumers become more influenced by Western tastes.