NEW DELHI : Covid-19 has had an impact on the global watch industry, companies around the world have experienced slow sales and supply chain disruptions in the past 18 months. Timex Group India is also no exception.
The company closed with a net loss of ??8.11 crore for the year ended March 2021, but it is now returning to normal. The company’s global CEO, Tobias Reiss-Schmidt, was in India recently to review the company’s performance and explore long-term growth strategies. Schmidt said India will experience strong growth in the fashion watch category. Edited excerpts from an interview:
How has the past year and a half been for watches around the world?
For each country, there is a unique story to tell about how the pandemic has influenced and impacted consumer and retail demand. The pandemic epidemic was an unprecedented event. There was obviously a severe impact on the business simply because of a complete foreclosure in many markets. In the markets where the bottlenecks are now disappearing, we can really see that consumers are enthusiastic and have a very strong interest in the categories in which we operate. We are very happy with the way things are returning (to normal) and are very optimistic for the future.
Is this also true for India?
Absoutely. Sales and consumer demand also exceeded our expectations in India. For 2022, when we discuss with our business partners their vision for the future, we are quite optimistic. We are also very confident that Timex Group will be able to earn the same across all of our brand portfolios and outperform the market over the next 12-18 months. In India, the impact of the pandemic on the country itself has been quite severe. India, like many other markets, is really making a comeback.
How does India compare to China in terms of the size of the watch market?
India has a population of 1.4 billion and we have been in the country for a very long time. When we look at our priorities, we need to look at the desirability from the size of the market. We see that the Indian consumer has not only great brand awareness but also great appreciation of our brand. This makes India a very high priority for us, and probably a higher priority than China. We are seeing a very strong recovery around the world, particularly in the United States, which has been extremely strong for us. But when you look two or three years ahead, there probably isn’t a single market where you expect as much growth as India.
Are good quality luxury watches like Rolex facing a shortage?
Rolex, of course, is a completely different segment. This is not the one where were playing. I am aware that the demand for Rolex exceeds the supply. It’s great for them. In general, there are many big brands. I don’t think there is a fundamental shortage. But there is currently a supply chain disruption in all categories. So there are supply issues, but I don’t think there is a fundamental shortage of good products, big brands in the watch category.
How are fashion watches doing globally across all brands?
The fashion watch segment will experience growth globally. There are markets where the category is clearly stable. In markets like China and India, we’ll see high single-digit, maybe even double-digit growth in this space. Specific to India, it is a market where we expect very strong growth in this category in all distribution segments.
How big is your luxury watch portfolio in India? Is fashion an important part of your business here?
The luxury part of our portfolio, at this point, is still very small. When we talk about luxury, we are specifically talking about Swiss made watches like Versace, Salvatore Ferragamo, Missoni etc. (Timex manufactures them in Switzerland). The luxury part is still relatively small, but we’re starting to see very strong traction, especially with the Versace brand. And we are expanding the distribution there. But at this point, it’s still a small part of the business. The vast majority of our business is still under the Timex brand and other Timex related brands such as Helix, which targets a younger customer. We’re starting to see a good pull on the fashion side. We now cover a very broad segment from basic watches to ??2,000 or less and also sell automatics at much higher prices.
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