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Cross embeds wearable tech in leather products

White House's official pen brand is tweaking its pricing to enter accessories market

T E Narasimhan  |  Chennai 

The 169-year-old iconic writing instruments brand, Cross, is set to enter the $700-million (around Rs 4,402 crore) organised market in India. Through aggressive product launches and retail expansion that would include its own branded stores, it is eyeing around Rs 90 crore ($15 million) in sales this year.

Operating in the premium segment in writing instruments such as pens (that range from Rs 1,000 to Rs 10,000), globally competes with Montblanc, the brand bearing the famous white star logo.

However, will price its less than that of Montblanc's line. Its foray will put it squarely against brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, and Hidesign. The last two are only into leather accessories, while has apparel as well.

  • Eyeing Rs 90 crore in sales in a Rs 4,402-crore market
  • Competes with Mont Blanc in pens; but will sell accessories for 40% less than its other markets
  • Targets 400 outlets in three years, spanning metros and lower tier markets
  • One of its wallets pushes the envelope in wearable tech: Can be tracked through an app if lost/ stolen

Cross, which is the official writing instrument of the White House, has earmarked around Rs 12 crore for advertising and promotion, and plans to invest Rs 36 crore in plant and machinery this year alone.

While ran into trouble with its erstwhile Indian partner, Entrack International, and had to appoint other authorised dealers in October, 2014, is stitching up an elaborate retail presence with its partner for its leather products. Torero Corporation, an Indo-Spanish joint venture has exclusive rights for Cross leather products in India.

Yashovardhan Gupta, the JV's director and CEO says that Cross, targeting executives, consultants, entrepreneurs and even the youth, would require sales outlets in not just metros but also tier I and II markets. The would retail through modern retail chains, those with a network of more than 10 stores and shop in shops in departmental stores.

In the next six months, Cross will open its own branded stores, too. Overall, Cross is looking at 400 sales outlets in the next three years, according to Gupta.

Admitting that there is a need to tweak around a global brand's strategy for the Indian market, Gupta says that pricing has to be readjusted. He says that Cross will price its leather accessories 40 per cent less than those prevailing in other markets for the same product.

"Consumers in India have had the opportunity to purchase great luxury brands and well-priced mass premium brands. But they have been bereft of choice in the accessible luxury price-points," he explains.

Spanning men's wallets, belts, tablet and smartphone cases, laptop bags, briefcases, pen cases, women's wallets, clutch purses and handbags, no less than 150 different products are being rolled out.

Gupta says that in the next three-four years, Cross' other brands, such as the well-known writing instrument brand Sheaffer that it acquired last year, and leather accessory brands such as Torero, Yanko, Victorio & Lucchino, will also be launched.

According to Gupta, the leather accessories market is growing at 16 per cent globally and at 25 per cent in India.

Cross is entering the accessories market on the back of enviable design credentials. Its Grabado Tech+ wallet won the coveted Red Dot Design Award, 2015, for outstanding Product Design.

Considered as the world's best design awards, the Red Dot design awards have been held since 1955 and recognises the best in product and communication design, among others. The competition is open to entrants from many sectors such as manufacturing, technology, applications, automobiles, fashion and accessories. Previous winners include Apple (2001), BMW (2007), the Bose Design Centre (2008), Porsche (2012) and Lenovo (2013).

The Cross Grabado Tech+ wallet was chosen out of 4,928 entries.

The wallet also has features like an anti-theft mechanism and is touted as a loss-proof accessory. It is encoded with a Bluetooth tracker and seamlessly syncs with the owner's cellphone.

Once a Cross app is downloaded, a lost or stolen wallet can be tracked down.

If stolen, the wallet will transmit an alert to the owner's phone and the Cross app will show a map to track down the wallet.

The wallet is also being seen as Cross' innovation in wearable tech.

On its cross hairs, is the aim to become the third device a person carries. Next up from its stables would be a fitness wallet to read calories burnt in a day and track other health cues.

For now, Cross' Spanish leather wallets will start at Rs 1,999, at Rs 1,499 and its women's bags at Rs 4,999.

First Published: Mon, April 20 2015. 21:50 IST