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Tag Heuer looking beyond the metros

Priyanka Joshi  |  Mumbai 

Swiss luxury watch maker is now looking beyond the metros. The company, which has seen its share in the estimated Rs 1,200 crore Indian luxury watches market, grow to 8 per cent, will multiply its presence in the country through multi-branded outlets in the smaller cities.

At present, Mumbai and Delhi account for a third of the company’s business in India. But Worldwide President & CEO Jean-Christophe Babin, who is on his fifth visit to India this year, sees a huge appetite for luxury brands in non-metro cities as well.

That’s where the next phase of demand will come from, Babin says, which will help push the brand’s sales growth in India from single-digits to over 15 per cent this year.

“India is a big strategic market for us. We are growing at over 40 per cent here,” the CEO says. What will help is the starting price of about Rs 35,000, which he believes, will appeal to the aspirational consumers in India. On the radar are Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Ludhiana, Jaipur, Raipur and Kanpur, among others.

In the last 10 months, has launched three standalone stores in India. “By the year-end, that number will go up to six,” Babin says, adding the company’s brand ambassador has helped LVMH, the owner of Tag Heuer, to break the clutter in a market that already has 35 to 50 Swiss and European watch brands.

“We will extensively use Shah Rukh to build our image as a premium watch brand among the Indian consumers,” Babin says.

The mega star however has his job cut out, as the brand saw a 20 per cent dip in sales over the last 15 months due to the economic slowdown. But Manishi Sanwal, general manager, LVMH India, says sales growth will be back on track in this festive season. “We are expecting the premium products like phones and limited edition watches to do better business than entry level watches,” Sanwal adds. At present, the company has around 200 watch models . That number will go up soon.

The luxury brand also has big plans for its premium range of mobile phones that were launched last year. Sanwal says the company has six handset models, starting at Rs 2.5 lakh and going up to Rs 8 lakh. The entry-level handsets have been a success in the metros and the company will now launch them in Ahmedabad and Bhopal, which are among the fastest growing cities for the brand in the country.

Tag Heuer, says Babin, is planning to increase its supply of mobile phones to ensure availability in India. “We are aiming to up our monthly production capacity to 1000 phones, so that we can address the consumer demand from the smaller cities,” he says. Each phone takes more than a day to assemble and customize.

First Published: Mon, October 05 2009. 00:15 IST