< CEO speak >
Alexander Benouna, CEO, Victorinox tells Mitrajit Bhattacharya that the brand is focusing more on long-term developments
Brief us on your key launches this year.
We have four launches every year and one every quarter. Every quarter, we come up with a new interpretation of our know-how in terms of designing, engineering and manufacturing, reflecting values of the Swiss Army Knife. The major highlight of the year will be the Night Vision watch which is a perfect illustration of our values.
You also have some new launches like the Dive Master 500 line.
Yes, the Dive Master range is the pillar of our collection. It’s a range that is water resistant to 500mts. It’s recognisable with its black ice finishing, the signature of Victorinox Swiss Army. This year, we are offering new designs of the same collection with a number of colours that are funkier and trendier, suitable for summer activities.
We also saw an excellent new interpretation of the Officer’s range with a combination of the Swiss Knife.
The Officer’s range pays tribute to our heritage. The first Swiss Army Knife was not known as the Swiss Army Knife. It was called the Schweizer Offiziersmesser, which means the Swiss Officer Knife. Now, we are offering a Combo Set. The knife factory has produced for us a special range where the pattern of the officer knife will collect the same pattern as we had on our timepieces.
Newer markets like China and India are emerging as strong markets. Are you experiencing the same for your brand?
India is a very important market. And China too. The Asian market as a whole is growing. All these markets have a demand for Swiss watches that is increasing year-on-year. Victorinox Swiss Army is focusing on this development. We focus more on long-term developments. We are not rushing and we are able to deliver.
Year 2008-2009, saw a severe movement of restriction. Do you still see a lot of headwind for the luxury industry?
The macro-economical situation always brings you challenges, sometimes unpredictable ones. We believe that if we are true to our origin, there is not much wrong that we can do. Our objective is to perpetuate the value and then build success of the Swiss Army knife. We do that consistently through all the different collections, with all our product categories.
With the consumer base pretty young do you see the affordable luxury segment scoring over the so called heritage big brands in the next five years?
I think this is quite symptomatic of the emerging market, which would have an exposure to international brands. We qualify as a mature market, the awareness, knowledge about technicalities, movements, specifics of Swiss timepieces takes more time to spread out among the population. But we believe the more end consumer is aware about the specifics of Swiss timepieces, the better it is for a brand like us.
How critical is India in your global footprint today?
India is very critical because Asia is a very important market for us and India is very important for the Asian region. In Asia or India particularly, we do have a Victorinox subsidiary that speaks of our intention to build up long term relations with our business partners.