‘We Offer Highest Technology With Affordable Pricing’
Raymond Weil is one of the premier Swiss watch companies with a presence in India. Its president Olivier Bernheim spoke to BW Businessworld’s Suman K. Jha and Manish K.Jha. Excerpts from the conversation:
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How do you look at the luxury market in India?
It is definitely about the people of India as they are enthused by luxury. The potential here is huge.
How do you look at the luxury watch market in India?
Raymand Weil is known for selling luxury watches in the price range of Rs 60,000 to Rs 2.5 lakh in the Indian market. It’s luxury but in the affordable price range. Again, when you look at the size of the country, its population as well as its tier-1, tier-2 and tier-3 cities, you realise that there are just very few luxury retailers. Expansion is not yet on a scale so that one can say it is a major market.
You have a worldwide presence. What lessons from the global market, if any, would you like to put in practice in India?
I have been coming to India since 1968 and for business since 1984. I don’t think there is any lesson that I have learnt that could impact my decision or my behaviour, as it is so different here. We have here, say, VAT (value added tax) and GST among others taxes. But it is a very special market where local habits play an important role. It is becoming a global market; nothing will stop it.
How do you look at the competition in the Indian market from other Swiss brands?
The competition is very tough. It is probably harder here than anywhere else in the world. There are very limited number of retailers and then, everyone competes.
What are your growth plans for India?
There is no number to put on growth. For the last three to four months (post-demonetisation), the mood is better.
Do you think foreign brands face some peculiar challenges in India?
Yes, of course. One of the peculiar challenges that you face in India is 30 per cent duty, 18 GST and 12 per cent customs duty. I mean where else in the world do you encounter such a high custom barrier. That is definitely a challenge for the brand.
According to you, the Indian customer is peculiar. You have been interacting with them over the years. What is it that they look for in the brand?
I think ladies here tend to look more for the jewelry piece attached to their products or matched with their clothing. And, men look for mechanical and technical details. But nevertheless, they also look for affordability.
How do you compare your experience here with another big market like China?
I have been asked this question for so many years. Don’t even try to compare India with china. India has the history, culture. You are very different as a country and the way business is run. It is always the history that plays a part here. Also, the kind of things that you can do in India. Like what PM Modi did in 2016 (demonetisation). You cannot do such a thing in China.
Which are your biggest markets in the world? Where does India rank among them?
North America is our biggest market. India ranks far, very far. I can say it is somewhere 14th in the rankings.
What is the first thing about Raymond Weil that you like to say to a prospective customer?
It would be two things — highest technology and affordable pricing.