We plan to bring in branded timepieces, clocks to India

Written by Mona Mehta | Updated: Oct 7 2009, 06:34am hrs
Spurred by growing sales in the premium watches segment, Japan-based Seiko Watch Corporation is all set to strengthen its brand image in India through innovative and evolved retail formats. Tetsuji Ishimaru, managing director, Seiko Watch India Pvt Ltd, spoke to Mona Mehta on his focus on marketing and diversified product portfolios and how he hopes to spur Seiko's current double-digit growth figures even further. Excerpts:

Tell us about Seiko's retail expansion plans in India and the competition

In India, the focus is on selling only premium Seiko watches that are currently being retailed through 120 multi-brand retail stores. Our aim is to expand the reach to 200 retail stores in the near future. Besides, we also plan to set up at least three to five exclusive Seiko watch stores in India in the next three to five years, in the form of an anchor tenant within malls, as well as a standalone. Globally, Seiko has a presence of exclusive Seiko branded stores each in Canada, Paris, Japan, Hong Kong and Iran, apart from three to four stores in Singapore.

In India, Seiko brand competes with other Swiss brands in the same league. They include, Tissot, Longines, Rado and certain Tag Heur watches.

Explain your strong focus on marketing the premium Seiko branded watches in India.

During the first quarter of the financial year 2009-10, Seiko Watch Corporation witnessed a 20% to 30% dip in demand in Japan and US, the strongest market for Seiko branded premium watches. This led to closure of many premium watch retailers. Since India's economy is growing at a better pace than Japan and the US, we feel there is a great potential to widen the reach for Seiko watches in India and also bring in the new technological Seiko watch.

Is Seiko Watch India planning to launch new technological watches in India, in sync with the global market

We plan to bring in springdrive technological watches to drive the mechanical watch categories in India either by this financial year-end or next financial year. In Japan, the demand for springdrive technological watches has taken off well. Besides, we also plan to bring in Seiko branded timepieces and clocks in India soon.

What are the major challenges Seiko faces in the Indian retail market

Seiko watches are 100% imported and are a niche premium brand. The retail prices range between Rs 5,000 and Rs 60,000 and the positioning and target audience are premium customers. Hence, one of the major challenges is to convince retailers about the new technology so that they are able to pass on the technology knowledge benefit to customers and ensure sales conversion. This is how the brand will sell for itself. As for setting up a manufacturing facility, we are not planning to set up a facility now.

Tell us about the emerging trends in premium watches in India vis-a-vis the global market

Globally, there is a growing demand for men's mechanical watches. In Japan and the US, the demand for mechanical watches for men is growing at the rate of 60% to 70%, as compared to 30% demand for mechanical and quartz watches for women. This is because women's watches bear more designs and diamonds than men's watches. Our aim is to spur the sales of mechanical watches for men in India too and a combination of mechanical and quartz watches for women.