Swiss Watch makers shift focus to India

Written by Mona Mehta | Updated: Dec 14 2009, 06:02am hrs
Amid positive consumer sentiment, the demand for luxury Swiss watches is growing 20%, in comparison to 8% growth the segment witnessed during the third quarter of 2008-09 due to slowdown in the economy. Ethos Swiss Watch Studios chief executive officer Yashovardhan Saboo spoke to FEs Mona Mehta on how Ethos is gearing up to expand its retail network for Swiss watches in metros, including airports. According to Saboo, due to steeply rising gold prices, Swiss luxury watch price in India is expected to increase 5% to 10%.

What are Ethos retail expansion plans in India

In India, we aim to open 40 Ethos stores in the next three years. We have 20 Ethos retail stores as a premium retail chain of luxury watch boutiquesEthos Summit that carries luxury brands such as Cartier, IWC, Carl F Bucherer, Baume & Mercier, Tag and Dior, among others. The other formats include mono brand stores as well. Ethos is currently managing two exclusive Omega boutiques in Mumbai and a Rolex boutique in Bengaluru. The demand for luxury watches is emerging from two sets of customers that includes gifting category, which is festival base and collectors category for those who are fond of buying luxury at any period of the year. The stores are spread across Mumbai, Delhi, NCR, Bengaluru, Ludhiana and Chandigarh. We are planning to invest Rs 30 crore in the retail expansion plans.

What challenges Ethos is expected to face to attract footfall & convert sales

Six years ago, the grey market in India constituted 95% of the Swiss luxury watch market. The remaining 5% was official market. At present, 40% is the official Swiss luxury watch market and 60% the grey market. Hence, one of the biggest challenges is to address the 40% official market by setting up more stores. Since the retail market is attractive in terms of affordable rentals, more stores will not be a problem. However, amid the scenario, second biggest challenge is to convince Swiss watch makers to keep the Indian retail prices competitive to the global market, and not hike the prices in India due to rising gold prices.

How is export of Swiss luxury branded watches taking off from Switzerland to other countries

Since Switzerland is witnessing 30% dip in exports for Swiss luxury watches due to slowdown, the makers have shifted focus to India and China for increasing brand awareness and availability. Thus, we feel Indian Swiss watch market will become more competitive in the next two years.

What marketing initiatives are being planned at Ethos in India

Considering that over 30% of the overall sales fall into the gifting category, Ethos has an established institutional sales scheme. Our initiative Club Ethos aims to provide the most rewarding experience to its club members in the retail category. Our schemes for regular customers during festival period remains the same across retail stores

What revenues are expected in the next 3 years

With the growing demand in India, we hope to achieve revenues of Rs 200 crore.