India’s retail Czars

India’s retail Czars

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WATCH WORLD profiles the movers and shakers of the Indian watch retailing.

Retailing is as imperative as the product itself especially for the luxury industry. Luxury retailing in India has just come off age thanks to the farsightedness of handful of individuals who started early, stayed committed to the cause, invested without adequate returns and fought against all odds. In this series, we feature six such stalwarts who are gradually putting India on the world map of luxury business. Five of them have been controlling huge markets, namely New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Ahmedabad for several years now while the sixth one has just begun with a bang with a multi-city launch. Here is what they have to say about the future of luxury retailing in India and their plans.

Sandeep Kapoor, Kapoor Watch Co.

On luxury retailing
There are better times ahead as the present generation – the workforce of India – has more disposable money to spend on lifestyle and luxury goods.

On merits and demerits of luxury retailing in India
I don’t see any disadvantage in luxury retailing. Today Indians are very well travelled and can afford to buy these luxury goods as their annual incomes have improved in comparison to the 80s and the 90s. If we don’t provide these goods in India, people will start getting them from the neighbouring countries.

On the firm’s Swiss brands
In 1995 we started with Baume & Mercier. In fact, we are probably the first in India to have imported watches from Switzerland. We have recently signed Breitling, Rolex and Girard-Perregaux.

On future plans
We plan to expand in our home turf, Delhi.

On the firm’s top three brands
It’s Omega, Rolex and Cartier.

On change in customer awareness and expectation of the luxury brands
Yes, there is a significant change in customer awareness. The budget, media and greater exposure to the world outside keeps the customer informed about the latest trends and fashions.

On India making it to the Top 5 of premium end market
We will make it to the Top 5. In the coming years India would definitely be one of the top retailing economy.

On training of manpower on sales, technical know-how and service
Our sales staff attend seminars organised by the Swiss companies and update their knowledge with the latest development on new products. Our technicians visit Switzerland from time to time for further training.


Ashok Doshi, Helvetica

On luxury retailing
With announcement of liberalisation of trade policy, luxury retailing has become a fast emerging market. Luxury watch retailing has not been addressed and presented properly in India. The vision is to represent the international luxury brands in their truest essence and thereby providing the customers with the best.

On merits and demerits of luxury retailing in India
The main advantage is that it’s a relatively new and emerging market. Being associated with highly appreciated and acclaimed brands adds to the existing business. But the most important factor is that there is a sea change in the customers’ attitude towards luxury brands. They are more open to buying and investing in luxury brands than before.
The disadvantages are many like the pricing in India is comparatively higher than the neighbouring countries (like Singapore) due to higher duties; luxury retailing is losing the meaning of “luxury” and becoming grocery selling due to the trend of heavy discounting; the brands have not been able to address firmly on the discounting trend, thus diminishing the brand equity in the market; and lastly there is over expansion of point of sales compared to the real sales.

On the firm’s Swiss brands
We started with Cartier, Corum, Omega, and Rado and later associated with Rolex, Chopard, Vacheron Constantin, Piaget, Bvlgari, Frank Muller, Bovet, Tag Heuer, Ulysse Nardin, Baume Mercier, Longines, Tissot and Swatch. We have recently signed with Breitling and IWC.

On future plans
Presently we have three points of sale: Spencer Plaza, Taj Coromandel and Citi Centre Mall. Besides we have exclusive Rolex Gallery, Omega, Tag Heuer, and Rado Boutiques at ITC Park Sheraton Hotel in Chennai. We plan to open exclusive Rolex, Longines, and Tissot boutiques here. We are soon opening a Luxury Retail Boutique at Leela Palace Hotel Galleria and plan to expand to cities like Hyderabad and Mumbai.

On changes in customer awareness and expectation of the luxury brands
There is customer awareness and expectations in terms of having a good ambience, convenience, competitive price compared to the neighbouring countries, and such factors, no matter how less trivial they sound are becoming more and more important.

On India making it to the Top 5 of the premium end market
We are positive that India can make it to the Top 5 market around the year 2011.

On training of manpower on sales, technical know-how and service
Traditionally, luxury watch retailing in India is a family run business. With growth it has become mandatory to convert manpower to trained professionals. Our sales executives are trained by professionals in our company and we look forward to brands participating in training sales executives. Our technical engineers are trained every year in Switzerland by many prestigious brands.

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